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Elder Abuse

“Honor Your Elders – They Show You the Way in Life.”

– Universal Alaska Native Value

Challenging Topic

This topic can be challenging for some, especially for people with relevant experiences. Remember to take care of yourself, and be aware of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical status. Be sure to take breaks, if needed.

If you need someone to talk to, please visit the Get Care page for resources specific to your circumstances.

What is Vulnerable Adult/Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that creates a risk of harm to an older adult. Many communities and individuals have different views of what makes someone an elder. For our purpose today, we define an elder as someone 60 or older. Abuse for anyone of any gender or age is never okay! However, there are certain people that are especially vulnerable. Alaska law defines vulnerable adults as a person 18 years of age or older who, because of incapacity, mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or confinement is unable to meet their own needs or to seek help without assistance.

Types of Abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that results in acute or chronic illness, bodily injury, physical pain, functional impairment, distress, or death. Physical abuse can include the acts of hitting, striking (with or without an object or weapon), beating, scratching, biting, choking, suffocation, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, stomping, pinching, and burning.

Sexual Abuse/Abusive Sexual Contact

Sexual abuse/abusive sexual contact can include forced or unwanted sexual interaction (touching and non-touching acts) of any kind with an older adult. This may include:

  • genital contact
  • contact between the mouth and penis, vulva, or anus
  • penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object
  • intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of genitals, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks

These acts are considered sexual abuse if they are committed against a person committed against someone who is not competent to consent.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

This looks like: verbal or nonverbal behavior that results in the infliction of anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress. Examples include behaviors intended to humiliate (e.g., calling names or insults), threaten (e.g., telling someone they will be placed in a nursing home), isolate (e.g., keeping away from friends or family), or control (e.g., taking away or limiting transportation, telephone, money or other resources).


This looks like: failure by a caregiver or other responsible person to protect an elder from harm, or the failure to meet needs for essential medical care, nutrition, hydration, hygiene, clothing, basic activities of daily living or shelter, which results in a serious risk of compromised health and safety. Examples include not providing adequate nutrition, hygiene, clothing, shelter, or access to necessary health care; or failure to prevent exposure to unsafe activities and environments.

Financial Abuse/Exploitation

This looks like: the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older individual’s resources by a caregiver or other person in a trusting relationship, for the benefit of someone other than the older individual. This includes depriving an older person of rightful access to, information about, or use of, personal benefits, resources, belongings, or assets. Examples include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions; use of coercion or deception to surrender finances or property; or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.


Get Help

For general resources about relationships, sex, wellness and more, please do a search on the Get Answers page.

Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Care page.