Recognise the Signs

Sometimes it can be hard to know exactly what abuse is. Read the information below to understand:

How to recognise if abuse is happening to you

Types of abuse

Psychological Abuse

Consider the possibility of psychological abuse if:

  • You are made to feel afraid in your living accommodation
  • You are experiencing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • You are made to feel tearful and agitated
  • You experience loss of appetite and/or disrupted sleep


Consider the possibility of neglect if:

  • You are not receiving adequate liquids to drink or food to eat
  • Your clothes are not being washed when required.
  • You are not being provided with appropriate clothing for the weather conditions
  • You are being denied the aids you need, e.g. glasses, hearing aid, dentures etc.
  • You are being left alone for long periods when you cannot move about easily or prepare meals with out assistance
  • You are bed/chair bound and you are experiencing pressure sores that are not being attended to even when brought to someone's attention

Financial Abuse

Consider the possibility of financial abuse if:

  • Someone else has access to your accounts without your full permission
  • You feel pressured to allow someone else access to your accounts
  • Someone else makes decisions about your money without speaking with you first
  • You feel you have lost all control over your money
  • Your money is being spent by someone else for things other than your bills, clothes, food, etc.
  • You feel pressured to give money to someone else

Physical Abuse

Consider the possibility of physical abuse if:

  • You have been treated roughly, enough to leave marks or bruises
  • You have been treated violently which caused broken bones, sprains, dislocations or other injuries
  • Someone has inflicted pain on you

Sexual Abuse

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse if:

  • Someone has forced you to be intimate with them without your consent

Where to get help

If you are experiencing any of the feelings or effects outlined above, you may need to speak with your GP, Public Health Nurse or Senior Case Worker or contact the HSE Information line on 1850 24 1850.

How to recognise if someone is being abused?

Most older people do not experience abuse. But, there are many ways in which an older person can be harmed or abused. An older person may experience more than one form of abuse at any given time

If you suspect that an older person may be experiencing any of the feelings or effects outlined below then you may need to speak with a GP, Public Health Nurse or Safeguarding Social Worker or contact the HSE Information line on 1800 700 700
00 353 1 240 8787 (from outside Ireland)

'Protecting our Future', the report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, published in September 2002, outlined the following possible indicators of elder abuse.
Psychological Neglect Financial Physical Sexual



Feelings of hopelessness/helplessness

Disrupted appetite/sleeping pattern


Excessive fears




Unexplained paranoia




Inappropriate clothing

Poor hygiene

Unkempt appearance

Under/over medicated

Unattended medical needs

Exposure to danger/lack
of supervision

The absence of required aids, including reading glasses, dentures

Pressure sores

Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills

Unexplained or sudden withdrawal
of money from accounts

Funds diverted for someone else’s use

Being charged for unsolicited work or significantly overcharged for work done

Unexplained disappearance of possessions

No funds for food, clothes, services

Refusal to spend money

The disparity between living conditions and assets

Extraordinary interest
by a family member in a person’s assets

Making dramatic financial decisions

Bruises or cuts, particularly to mouth, lips, gums, eyes, ears)



Burns (inflicted by cigarettes, matches, rope, iron, immersion in hot water)




Hair loss (possible hair-pulling)

Missing teeth

Eye injuries e.g.
black eye

Trauma about the genitals, breasts, rectum, mouth

Injury to face, neck, chest, abdomen, thighs, buttocks

Presence of sexually transmitted disease

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