World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: 8 Signs of Elder Abuse


Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vikas Kumar Sharma

General Health

5 min read


Observation of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was initiated by the WHO and International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022, know how to identify it.

Key Takeaways

  • June 15 is tagged as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day across the globe
  • Multiple studies show traits of elder abuse in India and all over the world
  • On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day know the signs of elder abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed worldwide on June 15. Its observation was initiated by the WHO and International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse in 2006. Elder abuse is “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person,” as per the WHO.

The purpose of observing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is to raise awareness of the different types of unfairness, intolerance, and prejudice faced by the elderly by their caregivers, relatives, and others. This is an issue that is common in both developing as well as developed countries. The different types of elder abuse include physical, verbal, and financial mistreatment, as well as neglect and abandonment. Sadly, most of it goes unreported. 

As per existing estimates, elder abuse ranges from 1%-10% in select developed countries [1]. As per a 2017 review that consisted of 28 studies conducted across 52 countries, about 15.7% of people above the age of 60 faced some type of elder abuse [2]. In India, as per a 2020 study, 5.2% of the elderly said they faced some type of abuse in that year. The same study indicates that elderly women, especially those living in rural areas, are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation [3].

As of now, there is no specific World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022 theme, but the focus is on ‘Building strong support for elders.’ This tagline also appears on the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day logo. Read on to learn about the signs of elder abuse and how you can take action.

Additional Read: Senior Citizen Health Plansigns of abuse by caregivers

Top 8 signs to identify whether an elder is being abused 

When senior citizens face abuse and humiliation from their close ones, it becomes visible in their appearance and attitude. As we observe another World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, it is important to know how you can identify them in time. Here are the signs that you can look out for.  


If you notice unexplained scars and bruises on an elderly person’s body, coupled with sprains, fractures, or dislocation of bones, all these can indicate physical abuse. Be 100% sure of this if the elderly person gives you an unconvincing account of their injury.

Incoherent speech

Elderly persons facing neglect and abuse develop symptoms of depression, anxiety, and confusion. All these affect their cerebral functions, and as a result, they may start speaking incoherently and often mumble to themselves, which may gradually lead to dementia.

Inability to talk freely

An abused elderly person may feel embarrassed or afraid of talking honestly to other people. This may be due to the fear that a truthful conversation may lead to further abuse. These seniors may not have freedom of expression at home or where they are living, owing to their dependence on the abusive caregiver.

Withdrawal from friends and social activities

Elder abuse leads to trauma and multiple physical and mental health disorders, due to which the suffering elderly may withdraw themselves from all sorts of social activities.

Rapid weight loss

When a senior citizen loses weight abruptly, it indicates a high chance of neglect and malnourishment.

Abnormal financial transactions

If a senior citizen is unable to access their financial records, it can be a major sign of financial abuse. In other cases of such abuse, you may also find a large amount of money missing from their bank statements or their account showing unauthorized transactions. In the worst-case scenario, the elderly needs to pay for or offer gifts in order to get companionship.

Unhygienic living conditions

Elderly people may need assistance in maintaining hygiene. If you notice using soiled clothes and bedding without changing for multiple days, it indicates abuse.

Elders struggling without medical aid

Aids such as walking sticks, dentures, medicines, hearing aids, or eyeglasses help elders communicate, be social, or move about with confidence. If they are intentionally misplaced or kept hidden, it is a clear sign of abuse. 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

What to do if you suspect that an elder is being abused? 

As elderly people may feel hesitant to talk about the abuse they are facing, you can help them by listening to them in private and helping them raise the matter to local administration, governing authorities, or the perpetrators of abuse. Take the help of doctors and lawyers to go forward. You can also take the help of social media to reach out to people and concerned authorities. 

Additional Read: Tips for Right Senior Citizen Health Insurance Policy 

Now that you know the signs of elder abuse and how you can make a difference with empathy, do your bit on the occasion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022. If you have elderly people at home, spend quality time with them and encourage your other family members to do so.

To lead a healthy life, be aware of other important days like World Obesity Day and World Environment Day. In case of any age-related health issue, you can speak to the doctors on Bajaj Finserv Health via a teleconsultation. You can also speak to specialists registered with the platform for all types of health disorders. To make sure you and your loved ones are healthy, be regular with health check-ups and doctor consultations. 

Published on 13 Jun 2022Last updated on 13 Apr 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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