University of Illinois Extension

Molly Hofer
Extension Educator, Family Life
Cook County Unit
10244 South Vincennes Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
P: 773-233-2900
F: 773-233-9183


Physical Abuse

Using physical force that results in physical pain or injury.

Sexual Abuse

Nonconsensual sexual contact with an older person.

Emotional Abuse

Verbal assaults, humiliation, threats, harassment, intimidation,or other abusive behavior.


Failure to make provisions for personal care (food, shelter, medical care, social contact), or forceful confinement or restraint of the older adult (either intentionally or unintentionally).

Financial Exploitation

The misuse or withholding or an older adult's resources by another, to the older adult's disadvantage.

The Victim

The typical victim of elder abuse is a widowed, white female in her mid-70s or older, and living on a limited income. The older person usually lives with the perpetrator, who is often a spouse or adult child. Elder victims often do not report being abused. Fearing retaliation by the abuser, being ashamed of the situation,or worrying about having to leave one's home are some of the reasons older adults do not report abuse.

The Abuser

The typical abuser is most often the adult child or spouse of the victim, although older family members and nonrelatives may be perpetrators.The abuser may depend on the older person for housing, financial assistance, or emotional support. Research indicates that caregiver stress, alcohol or substance abuse, and emotional and/or financial problems are factors in many instances of abuse.