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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.


Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that the elderly person may need. Informed consent means he or she understands what will be done and can make decisions about what he or she wants. The person gives his or her permission when he or she signs the consent form. The person can have someone sign this form for him or her if he or she is not able to sign it. He or she has the right to understand his or her medical care in words he or she knows. Before the person signs the consent form, he or she should understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all the person's questions are answered.


The person may need extra oxygen if his or her blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. He or she may get oxygen through a mask placed over his or her nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in the nostrils. Ask the person's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Vital signs:

Healthcare providers will check the person's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about his or her pain. These vital signs give healthcare providers information about the person's current health.


A special diet may be considered depending on the person's condition. A dietitian may talk to you about the person's eating habits and help him or her create a healthy meal plan.

  • If the person has trouble chewing, he or she may need thickened liquids to drink or soft foods to eat. Some examples are applesauce, bananas, and cooked cereal.
  • The person may need to be fed by an IV or a nasogastric (NG) tube if he or she cannot eat. An IV is a tube placed in a vein for giving medicine or liquids. An NG tube is put in through the nose and goes down into the stomach.


  • Antianxiety medicine: This medicine may be given to help the person feel less nervous and more relaxed.
  • Sedative: This medicine may be given to help the person stay calm and relaxed.


  • Blood and urine tests: Blood and urine tests may be done to check for health problems, such as malnutrition or infection.
  • Neurologic signs: Neurologic signs are also called neuro signs. Healthcare providers check the victim's eyes, memory, and how easily he or she wakes up. Hand grasp and balance may also be tested. This test shows healthcare providers how the brain is working after an injury or illness. He or she may need to have neuro signs checked often.


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.


If left untreated, the elderly person may develop serious health and emotional problems. He or she may also become depressed.


The elderly person has the right to help plan his or her own care. To help with this plan, the person must learn about his or her condition or situation. He or she can then discuss options with healthcare providers. Working with providers will help the person decide on actions that will be taken, and care and treatment that will be given. The person always has the right to refuse actions or treatment.

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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.