Elder Physical Abuse – All You Need To Know

a pictorial illustration of elder physical abuse.

Elder Physical Abuse – All You Need To Know


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Pictorial Illustration of physical abuse.

Any Elder Abuse is reprehensible. But elder physical abuse is second to none in enormity and frequency.

  Physical abuse occurs through pushing, hitting, kicking, forceful grabbing, punching, etc. an older person to cause injury or bodily harm.

The abuse is most reprehensible if a family member is a culprit.

 As stated in this post, I have started blogging (series) to raise awareness about the abuse.

Many elder abuse cases go unreported and unpunished due to lack of awareness and adequate training and ignorance.

 Also included is the fear of reprisals and the older adult’s inability to cooperate with authorities due to their depreciated mental or physical states.

Many concerned citizens, organizations, or even governments are leaving no stones unturned to get it eradicated or the frequency reduced to the barest minimum.

With the ongoing increases in the aging population, elder physical abuse will certainly increase, challenging the determination of all working to eradicate it.

This post’s intent, a part of the series on elder abuse, highlights this frightening situation many of the senior citizens are going through, particularly at the hands of their family members. And I hope to propose ways to eliminate it.

Definition Of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs through pushing, hitting, kicking, forceful grabbing, punching, etc. an older person to cause injury or bodily harm.

Sometimes, causing bodily harm may not be involved in physical abuse like in cases of threats.

One can threaten an older adult using his fist, a wooden or metal object like a gun, club or knife, etc.

In each of these cases, there is a threat or expectation of bodily injury.


Statistics on elder physical abuse (elder abuse) are minimal due to inherent problems – explained above.

And the best source of information on this topic is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

I gleaned that only 1 in 20 cases of elder physical abuse were reported to authorities from that agency.

It is interesting to know that most of the elder physical abuses were by family members and took place in the aging senior citizens’ very homes.


Generally, physical evidence of the physical assault on the elderly like bruises, injuries.

Sometimes, sexual contact can also be classified as physical abuse.

In that case, there will be evidence of forceful contact like injuries at the private part, torn underwear, bruises, and bleeding, particularly in private areas of the body.

There has been no report that family members engage in physical abuse involving sexual contact.


The caretakers generally commit elder physical abuses, the people entrusted with the care, protection, and helping the aging seniors.

For All Your Medical And Mobility Needs

These are family members, employed home helpers, medical professionals, or their aids.

This unacceptable behavior takes place in the very homes of the elderly or care facilities.

Just think about this evil for a second; imagine the older adult as your aging mother or father! It is heart-breaking.

Why Physical Abuse?

Deceitful persuasion or coaxing, threats, force, or even bodily injuries and harm are some of the methods employed by these agents of evil to get their way with an older person.

You may ask the question, “why or what is causing the physical abuse?’

What will induce a caretaker, a family member, healthcare professional, or even any person to abuse physically older adults?

The simple answer is: it depends on the scenario. A wealthy older person may be abandoned in her own home or care center, with nobody caring for her.

Unscrupulous individuals may want some of her money, sex, or a host of other things. Physical abuse may occur if she becomes uncooperative.

A frustrated caretaker or a family member, worrying about personal issues or dissatisfaction with the aging senior’s uncooperating attitude, may become physical with the aging senior. Please see this post.

The older adult is helpless. Many of the elders are weak and frail. Some can be in a state of confusion due to the disability he/she is burdened with, like any form of dementia, diabetes, etc.

These perpetrators know how to target a victim. If a senior citizen has nobody visiting her, is abandoned in an elder care center, he or she becomes a prime target.

This could occur in the senior person’s home if nobody is keeping an eye on things.

If you know an older person in this situation, you may have to look for help for the person.


It is a very reasonable question to ask whether elder physical abuse can be prevented?

If you have or know an aging senior, the answer to this question or rather this part of this post will be of interest to you.

The first line of attack is to understand the problem’s cause(s) to deal with or solve a problem.

We already know, at the least from this post, that in most cases, those to whom the care of the elderly is entrusted are the perpetrators of any form of abuse on the aging senior.

We now know where the abuse takes place, the perpetrators, the motive, or the cause.

Therefore, in my opinion, it is preventable.

Why would a healthcare professional, aid, or person abuse an older adult in the nursing homes or elder care facilities?

Stress due to overwork, personal, and family issues like money or relationship problems could trigger such behavior.

The stressors are lack of self-discipline, particularly the attitude towards work. Even an older person’s uncooperative attitude can make a healthcare worker in a care facility to snap or shout at, threaten, kick, slap, etc. an older adult in her care.

So, to prevent this happening or reduce it to a minimum, the loved ones must maintain a constant visit and keep eyes on things – preditors – and be ready to deal with any abnormality.

The healthcare authorities hiring these workers must vent carefully, whom they employ, and be ready to deal with derelictions of duty or insubordination.

Healthcare workers should not be forced to put in too many hours or posted to places they did not like for whatever reason.

In a home-bound care situation, the son, daughter, or a family member of the older person may be the caretaker with paid healthcare workers helping them.

These relatives of the aging senior may not be paid.

An unpaid son, daughter, or family member may become physical if the older adult does not meet her demand for money or any favor.

To prevent this, family members and all concerned should rally around the caretaker with adequate support in money and any other required help.

The government should be involved in older people’s welfare by supporting and keeping an eye on the older adult’s welfare.

These measures will prevent or reduce the occurrence of elder physical abuse.

Final Thought

Physical abuse is devastating to the elder. The effect is worse when the attack is sexual.

This is why keeping constant vigilance is recommended.

For further reading on this subject, please go to http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/.

We now know the main culprits in this attack are the caretakers and the abuse occurs mostly in eldercare facilities and even in the homes of the elder.

Therefore, there should be a concerted effort by all concerned, including organizations, the authorities, the community, loved ones, to keep a watchful eye on the welfare of the elderly.

There should be support for the caregivers, including careful employment protocols.

But if the attack occurs, a safer environment must be provided for the aging senior, including counseling, medical treatment, etc. Don’t forget to contact the authorities.

If you have read this post up to this point, I hope you enjoyed reading it, and your knowledge of elder physical abuse has increased. Please give me your opinion.

It is our duty not to allow this evil called elder physical abuse to continue to thrive.

Please Leave Comments/Reply

Please share your thoughts in the Comment section below.   I would love to read them! If you have some experiences dealing with elder abuse and prefer to share them here, you are welcome.


website: https://thebabyboomerhub.com

email: calm@thebabyboomerhub.com

Ph.: (1) 602-687-2157

Comments ( 8 )

  • Lisa

    This is a very worrying topic to read about. It is not something i have come across personally with any family members but i have learned a lot for the future. Now i’m aware of what to look out for. This would mean i would vet any care home very carefully. If i had to employ a care worker it would be done with much more valuable in sight now. This is a very sad state of affairs and it is good that you are bringing this to people attention. I hope a lot of people read and learn from it.

    • Cal Mbano

      Hello, Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post. I’m happy you are now aware of the abuses some of our aging seniors are subjected to. As I said in one of the posts on elder abuse, these aging seniors are people and members of many families. Many of these people contributed a lot to what the current generation is enjoying. They deserve our taking care of and protecting them.

      Awareness is the key to solving any form of elder abuse. And following awareness is getting involved. The post made some recommendations.

  • Sonia

    I was happy to stumble upon your article as I am a retired therapist that worked mostly with the geriatric population. Your article is very informative. What do advise would you give to someone to seek help if they suspect elder abuse?

    In the US, you can google your state’s department of human services and should be able to find a phone number to call if there is any expected elder neglect/abuse. A social worker is generally sent out shortly after to investigate the claim. 

    A big thing that I don’t think was mentioned was caregiver burnout. This is a real problem that is not commonly spoken about and can lead to elder abuse or neglect. Options to help avoid this include: local elder adult daycares, respite care (temporarily stay at a medical facility that some insurances will pay for), and hiring additional caregivers…some states provide assistance for low-income individuals. Communication should be encouraged between the elder, caregivers, involved family members, and medical workers (in cases where the elder requires assistance with medications, appointments, ect). 

    If interested in receiving care in the home, ask the agency how they screen and pick their employees. Also what they do in the circumstance that the normal caregiver is absent. 

    Again, great job spreading awareness on this topic. 

    • admin

      Thanks for reading and commenting on this post. I appreciate your perspective.
      The reason for scanty information on elder abuse is because you get nowhere when a crime is investigated by the perpetrator. Generally, elder abuse is committed by the caretakers. Who will report the crime? Aging seniors don’t cooperate with investigators for fear of reprisal. And in most cases, they are unable to do so due to their conditions. And a loved one paying a casual visit may not recognize an abuse unless he or she is versed in elder abuse matters. This is why I’m focussing the series on elder abuse -https://thebabyboomerhub.com/series-on-elder-abuse-all-you-need-to-know/ – on awareness which, in turn, will make concerned individuals and organizations get involved in the search for the solution.

  • Tom Oswald

    Hi Cal. I truly support the No-Elderly-Abuse movement. I read the past news in Singapore where I was born and raised; the must-importance of choosing a suitable caretaker and maid for elderly folk’s needs at old folk homes and children’s homes. It takes a lot of paperwork procedures to make sure that the caretaker is mentally and emotionally reliable to handle such elderly folks. 

    • Cal Mbano

      Thanks, my friend. I wish many of us will get involved like you. Elder abuse is a disgrace to our generation. How can any person sit by and watch the father, mother, a relative, etc, subjected to any form of elder abuse? Many times people are unaware and the aging people, for different reasons, keep quiet about it.

      If I may ask, can you tell me what happened in the case you were describing? I would be happy to read it. In the meantime, remember to read my posts on elder abuse Series On Elder Abuse – All You Need To Know About The Crimes

  • Parameter

    As you mentioned, the ratio of a report of elder physical abuse is just 1 to 20, and it is based on lack of awareness and family-related matters. But the most painful part is the heartbreak incurred during this abuse. the physiological trauma takes time to heal. I wish more awareness can be made to reduce the rate of elder physical abuse. Also if the awareness of reporting is made, I believe this act will reduce to the bareset minimum 

    • Cal Mbano

      Thanks for your time. 

      Yes, the statistics on elder physical abuse (any elder abuse) is scanty because of who the perpetrators are and the mental and physical conditions of the aging seniors. Who will report the incidents? This would be like asking the perpetrator of a crime to be the investigator – you get nowhere. In this post (also see the series&nbsp), how to recognize, prevent, and what to do in case of occurrence are detailed. But awareness and participation in doing something about it seemed to be the most important aspects of the fight against.

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