Age Concern New Zealand

Serving the needs of older people
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What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse and neglect includes Psychological, Financial, Physical, Sexual Abuse, and Neglect, and its aspects are set out in an agreed official definition.


Elder Abuse and Neglect is 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 of various forms: physical, psychological/ emotional, sexual, or financial/material abuse, and/or intentional or unintentional neglect.

- Definition from Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2002

Psychological Abuse

Behaviour causing mental anguish, stress or fear. For example:

  • Ridicule or threats
  • Harassment or humiliation
  • Preventing choice or decision-making
  • Withholding affection.

Financial Abuse

Illegal or improper use of money, property or other resources. For example:

  • Unauthorised taking of money or possessions
  • Misuse of power of attorney
  • Failing to repay loans
  • Use of home and/or utilities without contributing to costs.

Physical Abuse

Infliction of pain, injury or use of force. For example:

  • Hitting, pushing, rough handling
  • Over-medication
  • Inappropriate use of restraints or confinement.


Not providing for physical, emotional or social needs. For example:

  • Inadequate food, clothing, shelter
  • Lack of social contact, support
  • Health needs not attended to.

Sexual Abuse

Non-consensual sexual acts or exploitive behaviours. For example:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Sexual acts with someone unable to give consent.

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