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Psychological Abuse of the Elderly for Family Members and Carers

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

Psychological or emotional abuse occurs when a carer causes emotional pain or stress for an elderly person. A carer may be a family member or a person who is responsible for taking caring of the person. The carer may insult, threaten, humiliate, or harass the person through words or actions. The carer may also ignore the person or isolate him or her from family members, friends, or daily activities. The person's rights may be ignored, limited, or taken from him or her even if the person can think and act for himself or herself. Psychological abuse can happen in the person's home, the carer's home, or a facility, such as a nursing home.


Follow up with the elderly person's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during the person's visits.


The person should rest when he or she feels it is needed. Tell the person's healthcare provider if he or she has trouble sleeping.


Psychological abuse may cause the person to feel scared, depressed, or anxious. A healthcare provider may suggest that the person see a counselor to talk about how he or she is feeling.

How to help the elderly person:

  • Report psychological abuse: It may be hard to report psychological abuse, but it is very important. Healthcare providers can help the elderly person if he or she is at risk for or is a victim of psychological abuse.
  • Attend follow-up visits with the elderly person: The person's healthcare provider may talk to you, the person, his or her family, friends, or those who should be held responsible for psychological abuse. This includes what may happen if psychological abuse does not stop.

For support and more information:

  • National Center on Elder Abuse
    c/o University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
    Alhambra , CA 91803
    Phone: 1- 855 - 500-3537
    Web Address:

Contact the elderly person's healthcare provider if:

  • He or she has problems sleeping.
  • He or she cannot get to the next office visit.
  • He or she has new signs and symptoms.
  • You or the elderly person has questions or concerns about his or her condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • He or she feels like hurting himself or herself, or someone else.
  • The elderly person feels that he or she cannot cope with his or her condition or recovery from it.
  • He or she has shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.