UNC Center for Aging and Health  |  Carolina Geriatric Education Center

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Elder Mistreatment

Why would anyone mistreat an older adult?

There may be as many answers as there are cases of elder mistreatment.  The dynamics of each case and the older adult, their family, their caregivers and their community are unique, but as a person ages they may become dependent on family members for care and characteristics about their life make them vulnerable.  Many families provide care in an appropriate and loving way; but some do not.  They cause harm in countless ways. Some older adults are mistreated in the institutions where they live.  Many cases go unreported and unnoticed, but some victims of elder mistreatment end up in the acute care setting.

There is no universal agreement on a definition for elder mistreatment.  Almost all would consider physical abuse to be mistreatment, but what about the caregiver who just doesn't know what to do for the elder in their care? Is that mistreatment?

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this module the learner will be able to:

  1. Define elder mistreatment 
  2. Describe the types of elder mistreatment and its signs and consequences.
  3. Screen for and recognize cases of elder mistreament in the acute care setting.
  4. Take appropriate action to report cases of elder mistreatment.


Begin the Module