Psychological Abuse

Emotional and Psychological abuse is any action, verbal or non-verbal, that lessens a person’s sense of identity, dignity and self-worth.

Elder Abuse – Psychological Abuse of Seniors

How Do I Recognize Emotional Abuse?


  • Words that are hurtful make the senior feel unworthy.
  • Not considering a person’s wishes. Removal of decision-making powers
  • Not respecting a person’s belongings or pets.
  • Threatening a senior,” Give me gas money or I won’t take you to visit your grandchildren.”
  • Treating a senior like a child.
  • Shunning, ignoring or lack of acknowledgement
  • Verbal intimidation, being forced into making decisions against the seniors’ will.
  • Threats of institutionalization – “Do what I say or I’ll put you in a home”
  • Not allowing the senior to socialize, including access to telephone, friends, neighbours, or attending social gatherings
  • Withholding of affection, such as refusing access to grandchildren

Signs of Psychological Abuse

  • Low self-esteem, withdrawal
  • Tearfulness
  • Lack of eye contact with health care providers
  • Fearfulness – Nervous around caregiver or other persons
  • Reluctance to talk openly, waits for caregiver to respond to questions asked of them
  • Helplessness
  • Insomnia/sleep deprivation/fatigue, listlessness

Learn more about elder abuse:   Financial  |  Psychological  |  Physical  |  Sexual  |  Elder Neglect  |  Systemic

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