For Emergencies call 911 or 1-866-876-5423 (York Regional Police)

Types of Abuse

Physical Abuse

Definition: Any physical pain or injury that is wilfully inflicted upon a person, or unreasonable confinement, or punishment resulting in physical harm is abuse.

Example: Hitting; pushing; pulling; slapping; shaking; physical restraint. Over or under-medicating someone can also be considered physical abuse as does denying access to medication by not filling prescriptions.

Signs: Physical changes such as bruises, broken limbs, drowsiness.


Emotional Abuse

Definition: The wilful infliction of mental anguish or the provocation of fear of violence or isolation is known as psychological or emotional abuse.

Example: Name-calling; yelling; ignoring; insulting; threats including threatening to “put them in a home” provoking fear, intimidation or humiliation; being treated like a child; isolation; removal of decision-making power and denying rights such as access to grandchildren.

Signs: Withdrawn, depressed, anxious, fearful, especially when they are around their abuser. They may be tearful, or more irritable, confused.


Financial Abuse

Definition: This results in monetary or personal gain for the abuser and monetary or personal loss for the senior.

Example: Theft or misuse of money or property such as household goods, clothes or jewellery. Includes abuse by Power of Attorney. It can also include withholding funds and/or fraud. May also include having people living in a senior’s home who fail to pay their fair share of the bills or refuse to move out when asked. Can also include enforced child care without reimbursement.

Signs: Property of the senior may suddenly disappear or the senior is suddenly not able to pay bills.


Sexual Abuse

Definition: Sexual abuse is understood as contact resulting from threats or force or the inability of a person to give consent.

Example: Assault; rape; sexual harassment; intercourse without consent; fondling a confused senior; intimately touching a senior during bathing; exposing oneself to seniors; inappropriate sexual comments; or any sexual activity that occurs when one or both parties cannot or do not consent.

Signs: Symptoms will be similar to the physical and emotional abuse.



Definition: Neglect can be intentional (active) or unintentional (passive) and occurs when a person who has care or custody of a dependent senior fails to meet his/her needs.

Example: Withholding or inadequate provision of physical requirements, such as food, housing, medicine, clothing or physical aids; inadequate hygiene; inadequate supervision/safety precautions; withholding medical services, including medications; overmedicating; allowing a senior to live in unsanitary or poorly heated conditions; denying access to necessary services (e.g. homemaking, nursing, social work, etc.) or denial of a senior’s basic rights.

Signs: Changes in hygiene including looking more disheveled, untidy or dirty.


Self Neglect

Definition: For a variety of reasons, seniors themselves may fail to provide adequate care for their own needs and this form of abuse is called self-neglect.

Example: Not eating enough food. Wearing clothes that are filthy, torn, or not suited for the weather. Living in unsanitary or hazardous conditions. Not getting medical care.

Signs: Changes in hygiene including looking more disheveled, untidy or dirty.


System Abuse

Definition: Our society and the systems that develop within it can generate, permit or perpetuate elder abuse. Most prevalent is discrimination against seniors due to their age and often combined with any of these additional factors: gender, race, colour, language, ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, ability, economic status, or geographic location.

Example: Lack of access to appropriate accommodation; trying to enforce payments in hospitals while awaiting a bed in a long term care home; not receiving information about rights when declared incapable; health care cuts that result in restricted access to appropriate care needs; reduced pensions resulting in poverty.


Abuse of Rights

Definition: The denial of a person’s rights as set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or Provincial legislation is abuse of rights.

Example: Denying a person the right to privacy in their home environment; censoring mail; withholding information to which the person is entitled; denying a person visitors or phone calls; restricting a person’s liberty; not allowing them to go out and socialize.


Fraud and Scams

Definition: The stealing of personal identity or funds under false pretences. Considered theft under criminal law.

* Identity Theft: Personal information is stolen from the senior; including bank/credit card, PIN, SIN, drivers licence, and health card numbers and used to take out a loan, apply for a credit card or get a mortgage.

* Credit /debit card frauds: con artist uses your card or a copy to make purchases or withdraw money.

* Online scams: may appear to be asking for help, or reporting problems with your bank accounts that require your personal information and intervention.

* Phone or door-to-door scams: may advise you that you have won something, or use high pressure sales tactics to convince seniors to buy something they don’t need, want and are charged excessive amounts.

* Work may be completed but bad workmanship is apparent with no agreement to improve this.

Example: Depletion of monies from bank accounts for unknown reasons. Receiving bills or invoices for credit cards, loans, purchases etc that they didn’t take out or buy. Harassing e-mails about the need to send money or give personal information. Shoddy work completed around the home and contractor unwilling to fix, or disappears.