The following are risk factors for elder abuse:

  • a history of difficult family relationships, including past abuse;
  • a suspected abuser has a history of poor adjustment; e.g. emotional or psychiatric problems; substance abuse; anti-social behaviour; inability to sustain employment; inability to sustain other relationships;
  • a suspected abuser is having difficulty coping with the stress related to caring for the elderly person, especially when there are other risk factors present; (However most caregivers do NOT become abusive, even when under tremendous stress);
  • an older person is socially isolated, especially when isolation is the result of cognitive or physical impairment.

Any older person may be a victim of elder abuse. Victims come from all walks of life; may be male or female; may be frail or in good health; may be from any ethno-cultural background.  Everyone who works with elderly persons should be aware of the possibility of abuse.