Emotional abuse in old age

The elderly are usually physically or mentally frail. They are unable to defend themselves and often unable or unwilling to report abuse. Abuse can take many forms, being the most difficult to identify emotional abuse due to lack of evidence physics. There are many possible causes of elder abuse. With respect to the exact cause, older people are an easy target for the anger and frustration of caregivers.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can be physical or emotional in nature and includes neglect, financial exploitation and sexual abuse. Abuse of the elderly is not limited to certain sectors of the population. People of all economic, ethnic and social status may become victims of abuse. With frequency, the abuse is committed by employees who work in nursing homes, private caregivers and members of the family who are responsible for caring for their family elders.


According to HelpGuide.org, tens of thousands of seniors are victims of abuse in the United States. In the US, half a million reports of elder abuse each year are filled. Many more cases are unreported. Many elderly report abuses but ignored. Members of the family may believe that abuse is a figment of his imagination or a symptom of mental deterioration. In other cases, the caregiver can explain the situation in a way that is not abuse.

Emotional abuse

As the general adult abuse, emotional abuse of elders can take many forms. Emotional abuse is any action that causes emotional pain and/or distress. Verbal forms of emotional abuse include yelling or threats against the victim; constant blame the victim; or humiliation, intimidation or ridiculing the victim. Some nonverbal forms of emotional abuse include isolating the victim; ignore the victim or his needs; or any other action that causes feelings of terror or fear.


One of the main causes of abuse in the elderly is stress by the caregiver. Caregivers in nursing homes and in home may feel overwhelmed by the task of caring for an elder. They may face difficulties in other aspects of their lives or suffer depression or drug and alcohol abuse. Domestic violence is a common cause of elder abuse.

The US Administration on Aging reports that husbands are usually guilty of abuse. The percentage of abuse is also high if adult children living at home for the elderly. Another cause is the personal property of the victim or his illness. Elderly showing disruptive behavior, they refuse to cooperate or who have important needs are more likely to cause physical or mental abuse from their caregiver.

Warning signs

The website lists some signs HelpGuide.org general alarm about abuse. These signs include changes in behavior or personality of the elderly, signs of stress or frequent arguments between the caregiver and the abused. Specific signs of emotional abuse include dementia as behaviors such as rocking, muttering or thumb sucking.

Other signs are threatening or abusive behavior that has seen another witness. Neglect is a form of emotional abuse that causes mental and emotional anguish. Signs of neglect include dehydration, malnutrition or unusual weight loss; unhealthy or unhealthy conditions of life; untidy or unwashed appearance; bed sores; untreated medical conditions; and let the older person unattended in public places.