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Types of Abuse

There are many forms of abuse. Below are some common definitions of different types and examples as they pertain specifically to older adults.

Physical Abuse

An act, rough treatment, or punishment that may result in injury, pain, or impairment.

Emotional Abuse

Psychological, verbal, or emotional abuse causing suffering, emotional pain, or distress.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual contact or non-contact of any kind with an older person without agreement from that person.


Intentional or unintentional failure or refusal to provide care or help to an older adult – an extreme form of neglect.


Purposeful and permanent desertion of an older adult by an obligated caregiver (e.g., left at a hospital, nursing home, or another public location).

Financial Exploitation

Illegal or improper use of an older person’s money or property.