Elder Abuse can occur in many forms and it doesn’t discriminate. Elder Abuse can also be hard to identify because often the person being abused feels fear, denial or shame and tries to hide the abuse.

If you’re not sure if you, or someone you know is suffering from elder abuse, it helps to know a little more.

Remember, you don’t need to have all the answers before you call the Elder Abuse Helpline. It’s ok to ask the question.

To ask questions or for more information call the Helpline on 1800 441 169.

Definition of elder abuse

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines elder abuse as,
“a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

Abuse is typically carried out by someone close to the older person, who they trust: their spouse or partner, children, in-laws, grandchildren, carers, neighbours or friends.

Types of elder abuse

The National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians acknowledges that there are five commonly recognised forms of abuse: physicalsexualpsychological or emotionalfinancial abuse and neglect.

Physical Abuse

An act that causes physical pain or injury to an older person. It can include but is not limited to actions such as hitting, pushing or kicking. Inappropriate use of drugs or physical restraints are also examples of physical abuse.

Sexual abuse

Any sexual behaviour without an older person’s consent. It includes sexual interactions and non-contact acts of a sexual nature.

Psychological or emotional abuse

An act that causes emotional pain or injury to an older person. It can include insulting or threatening a person, acts of humiliation or disrespect, and controlling behaviours such as confining or isolating a person.

Financial abuse

The misuse or theft of an older person’s money or assets. It can include behaviours such as using finances without permission, misusing a legal document such as an enduring power of attorney, withholding care for financial gain, or selling or transferring property against the older person’s wishes.


Neglect can be intentional or unintentional and occurs when the basics of life are not provided by those responsible for the care of an older person. Neglect includes the inadequate or delayed provision of housing, bedding, food, clothing, hygiene and medical or dental attention, as well as the inappropriate use of medication, such as under-medicating or over-medicating.

The Tasmanian Government acknowledges that the following types of abuse, which may also be considered to be psychological or emotional abuse, are becoming more widely known.

Social abuse

This includes preventing an older person from having social contact with friends or family or access to social activities, moving the older person far away from, or cutting off support from, friends or family members, restricting telephone use, screening calls, preventing the older person from socialising or meeting with neighbours, or leading the older person to incorrectly believe that their friends or family are interfering.

Spiritual abuse

This is the denial or use of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to control or dominate a person, damage their spiritual experience and isolate them.

To ask questions or for more information call the Helpline on 1800 441 169.

Elder Abuse Tasmania