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

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is physical force or violence that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. It includes assault, battery, and inappropriate restraint.

Who are the perpetrators?

Perpetrators may be acquaintances, sons, daughters, grandchildren, or others. Physical abuse that is perpetrated by spouses or intimate partners in order to gain power and control over the victim is described in the section on domestic violence. Perpetrators are likely to be unmarried, to live with their victims, and to be unemployed. Some perpetrators have alcohol or substance abuse problems. Some are caregivers for those they abuse.

Who is at risk?

As a group, victims of physical abuse do not differ significantly from seniors who are not abused.

What are the indicators?

Indicators are signs or clues that abuse has occurred. Physical indicators may include injuries or bruises, while behavioral indicators are ways victims and abusers act or interact with each other. Many of the indicators listed below can be explained by other causes (e.g. a bruise may be the result of an accidental fall) 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

How can I learn more?