Types of Abuse

How do I know if someone is being abused, neglected, or exploited?

Click on the type of abuse below for a brief definition and warning signs:

Physical Abuse

What is it?

Non-accidental use of force that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. This includes, but is not limited to, being slapped, burned, cut, bruised or improperly physically restrained.

What are the warning signs?

Physical: slap marks, unexplained bruises, most pressure marks, and certain types of burns or blisters, such as cigarette burns.

Emotional Abuse

What is it? Verbal attacks, threats, rejection, isolation, or belittling acts that cause or could cause mental anguish, pain, or distress to a senior.

What are the warning signs? Withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, or other unusual behavioral changes.

Sexual Abuse

What is it? Sexual contact that is forced, tricked, threatened, or otherwise coerced upon a vulnerable elder, including anyone who is unable to grant consent.

What are the warning signs? Bruises around the breasts or genital area and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases.


What is it? An action that involves the misuse of an adult’s funds, property, or personal dignity by another person.

What are the warning signs? Sudden change in finances and accounts, altered wills and trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, checks written as “loans” or “gifts,” and loss of property.


What is it? Harm to an adult’s health or welfare caused by the inability of the adult to respond to a harmful situation or by the conduct of a person who assumes responsibility for a significant aspect of the adult’s health or welfare. Neglect includes the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
A person shall not be considered to be abused, neglected or in need of emergency or protective services for the sole reason that the person is receiving or relying upon treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination, and this act shall not require any medical care or treatment in contravention of the stated or implied objection of that person.

What are the warning signs? Pressure ulcers, filth, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration.


What is it? Desertion of a frail or vulnerable elder by anyone with a duty of care.

What are the warning signs? The desertion of the person at a shopping center or other public location; and A person’s own report of being abandoned.


What is it? An inability to understand the consequences of one’s own actions or inaction, which leads to, or may lead to, harm or endangerment.

What are the warning signs? Little or no personal care, refusing medication, disoriented or incoherent, unsafe living conditions, hoarding, inability to manage finances and property, and isolation.