Safety First: About Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse

Older members of our community are often more vulnerable to abuse, especially those who rely on others for some or all of their care. These are some of the common types of abuse facing older adults.

Physical Abuse

Any physical pain or injury which is willfully inflicted upon an elder by a person who has care or custody of, or who stands in a position of trust with that elder, constitutes physical abuse. This includes, but is not limited to, direct beatings, sexual assault, unreasonable physical restraint, and prolonged deprivation of food or water.

Financial Abuse

Any theft or misuse of an elder's money or property, by a person in a position of trust with an elder, constitutes financial abuse.


The failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder to provide that degree of care which a reasonable person in a like position would provide constitutes neglect. This includes, but is not limited to:

Failure to assist in personal hygiene or the provision of clothing for an elder

Failure to provide medical care for the physical and mental health needs of an elder. This does not include instances in which an elder refuses treatment.
Failure to protect an elder from health and safety hazards.


Failure to provide for self through inattention or dissipation. The identification of this type of case depends on assessing the elder's ability to choose a life-style versus a recent change in the elder's ability to manage.

Psychological/Emotional Abuse

The willful infliction of mental suffering, by a person in a position of trust with an elder, constitutes psychological/emotional abuses. Examples of such abuse are: verbal assaults, threats, instilling fear, humiliation, intimidation, or isolation of an elder.


Abandonment constitutes the desertion or willful forsaking of an elder by any person having the care and custody of that elder. under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care of custody.

Is abuse of elder adults a crime in Canada?

Abuse of elder adults is not specifically identified as a crime. The abuse may be a combination of different behaviours by the caregiver. Some of these behaviours may also be crimes. If the abuser has broken the law he or she may be charged with a criminal offence.