Elder Abuse


Although elder abuse may exist in every sector, it is seldom acknowledged or denounced, and is often kept quiet. Elder abuse can take on different forms; it can be:

  • physical,
  • psychological,
  • emotional,
  • sexual,
  • material, or
  • financial.

Abuse—whether intentional or unintentional—has real consequences that can potentially be devastating for the quality of life of seniors.


A Reference Guide to Counter Elder Abuse

The Reference Guide to Counter Elder Abuse (in French only) is an essential tool for any professional working with seniors. The Guide aims to facilitate prevention and care interventions in cases of abuse or violence, for the benefit of all. 

An Act to combat maltreatment

Despite existing mechanisms and efforts made, there are still too many reports of abuse against people in vulnerable situations. And too few of them are denounced. The provisions set out in the Act to combat maltreatment of seniors and other persons of full age in vulnerable situations add to existing mechanisms and further tighten the security net.  

Some definitions

Abuse: Abuse is defined 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. It can be intentional or unintentional.

There are seven forms of abuse: psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, rights violations, organizational abuse, and ageism.

Ageism is discrimination against a person based on their age that occurs through hostile or negative behaviour, harmful actions, or social exclusion.

Proper treatment of seniors: Taking proper care of our seniors encompasses their well-being, respect for their dignity, personal development, self-esteem, and safety. It also involves special attention, behaviours, actions, and practices that respect their values, their culture, their beliefs, their life course, and their distinctiveness, as well as their rights and freedoms.

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Fact or Fiction

In a majority of cases, abuse is suffered at the hands of strangers. True or False?

False. In a majority of cases, elders are abused by someone they know. In total, 55% of cases handled by Ligne Aide Abus Aînés involve someone in their immediate or extended family.

The risk of abuse varies depending on the victim’s income.

In reality, anyone can be a victim of abuse, regardless of their social status or income.

A strong social network, continued community involvement, and self-awareness are all factors that help elders protect themselves.

Indeed, the above factors are just a few of the intrinsic and extrinsic elements likely to reduce the risk of abuse. Conversely, social isolation, reliance on others for basic care, difficulty communicating, and being a woman all increase the risk of vulnerability.

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Did you know?

There are two forms of abuse: violence (mistreatment of an elderly person) and negligence (failing to meet an elder’s needs).

Mistreated elders are rarely inclined to seek help because they feel ashamed, guilty, or helpless. Often, they depend on the person mistreating them, or they tend to downplay the situation or are distrustful of the resource providing help.

Financial and psychological abuse are the most frequent types of abuse.

The Act to combat maltreatment of seniors and other persons of full age in vulnerable situations came into force on May 30, 2017. The Act makes it easier to report cases of abuse, and confirms the possibility to waive confidentiality or professional secrecy where there is a serious risk of death or significant injury. It also provides protection against reprisals and immunity from proceedings.

La Ligne Aide Abus Ainés (1-888-489-2287) is a province-wide elder mistreatment hotline and a specialized reference in elder abuse.

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