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About Abuse

Elder Abuse

Updated: 
August 15, 2019

What is elder abuse?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines elder abuse as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.”1 The World Health Organization (WHO) defines elder abuse as “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.“2 In other words, elder abuse is when a person who an older adult should be able to trust harms or risks harm to the older adult, by either purposely hurting him/her or failing to stop him/her from being hurt. An older adult is defined by the CDC as someone age 60 or older.1 However, there isn’t one universally-recognized age for “older adults” as explained in Who is considered “elderly” or an “older adult?

1Elder Abuse: Definitions,” Centers for Disease Control
2Elder abuse,” World Health Organization