NCPEA - National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
Elder Care

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is the willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, or other verbal or nonverbal conduct.

Cultural values and expectations play a significant role in how psychological abuse is manifested and how it affects its victims. See The role of culture in elder abuse and neglect.

Who are the perpetrators?

Perpetrators may be family members, caregivers, or acquaintances.

Who is at risk?

Persons who are isolated and lack social or emotional support are particularly vulnerable.

What are the indicators?

Indicators are signs or clues that abuse has occurred. Physical indicators may include somatic changes or decline, while behavioral indicators are ways victims and abusers act or interact. Some of the indicators listed below can be explained by other causes and no single indicator can be taken as conclusive proof. Rather, one should look for patterns or clusters of indicators that suggest a problem.

Physical indicators

Behavioral indicators

The perpetrator:

The elder:

How can I learn more?

Quinn, M.J., & Tomita, S.K. (1997). Elder abuse and neglect: Causes, diagnosis, and intervention strategies. (2nd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Co.