How to recognise abusive situations and where to go for help.


Elderly people, including those who suffer from dementia, are among the most vulnerable people in our society. Unfortunately, they can be targeted by others, who use their position of power to take advantage of them. This can result in situations where they become a victim of abuse. For families this can be a traumatic time and it is important to know how to deal with this quickly and effectively.

Should you suspect that any vulnerable person is a victim of abuse, it is important to take action as quickly as possible. Contact your local Social Services Department for advice and support.

Firstly it is important to understand what forms abuse can take. Here we list and explain them.


This can include stealing from, defrauding, or coercing the person with dementia to part with money, goods or property. The statistics show that family members are most likely to perpetrate this type of abuse under the guise of taking their inheritance early. Others who can be involved are solicitors, carers, friends and other parties.

This is set to be the crime of the 21st century. It can result in a poor appetite and loss of weight or general ill health.  Additionally the person with dementia may show a loss of trust in others, symptoms of depression, feelings of fear, shame, guilt, anger, self-doubt, remorse, and worthlessness. Financial destitution with an  inability to replace lost assets, an inability to provide long term care needs or even a loss of primary residence can be a result of financial abuse.


Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm…

Physical abuse is a major source of stress and can have long-term effects on the health and well-being of older adults. The stress of abuse may trigger chest pain or angina, and may be a factor in other serious health issues. Heart problems, high blood pressure, breathing problems, stomach problems (ulcers), and panic attacks are common stress-related symptoms among older people who experience abuse. As a result of abuse or neglect, older adults often experience worry, depression, or anxiety. These signs may be mistaken for memory loss or illness, when really they are the effects of stress or worry. An older adult may also feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment that someone in the family or someone close has harmed them.

It is vital that any unexplained  injuries are taken note of and investigated.


Neglect is behaviour that results in a person or persons needs not being met.

Some examples are: ignoring medical or physical care needs resulting in a poor physical condition or appearance. Typical symptoms include ulcers, pressure ulcers or soiled or wet clothing; preventing access to appropriate health, social care or educational services and the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.


Talking to or about people in a negative way – this can include swearing, shouting, name calling, threatening or even using a different language. Ignoring what a . s: The damage this behaviour can cause can manifest itself in a number of ways that can include: difficulty sleeping, profound and inappropriate sucking, biting, rocking, bed-wetting, exaggerated immature behaviour, low self-esteem, excessive moodiness, aggressiveness, overacting, shyness or being withdrawn, sadness and depression, lack of trust in oneself and others.


This results in mental or emotional anguish and can be caused by threats, humiliation, intimidation or other abusive conduct. This includes, but is not limited to, isolating or frightening an adult

Typical symptons of emotional abuse can include – surprise and confusion; questioning of ones own memory; anxiety or fear; shame or guilt; aggression or becoming overly passive or compliant; frequent crying; avoidance of eye contact; feeling powerless and defeated as though nothing you do ever seems to be right; feeling manipulated used and controlled; low self –esteem and suicidal tendencies. Emotionial abuse may also include the undermining of personal values and beliefs.



This is the involvement of an adult in sexual activities or relationships, which are for the gratification of the other person and which they have not consented to, or they cannot understand and are not able to consent to, or which violates the individuals expressed cultural or religious preferences,

 Victims of sexual abuse may develop many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders including guilt, fear, shame, and anger. Long term effects of sexual abuse can include chronic anxiety, low self-esteem, and problems with intimacy and sexuality. They may become severely depressed, even suicidal, or develop psychotic symptoms. They may suffer from alcohol or drug abuse or eating disorders.

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