Skip to main content

Abuse, Elder, Emergency Medicine

Helen Straus Reviewed 06/2017



Elder abuse may include the following: 
  • Emotional abuse:

    • Insults

    • Humiliation

    • Threats to institutionalize or abandon

  • Physical and/or sexual abuse:

    • Hitting

    • Slapping

    • Pushing

    • Burning

    • Inappropriate...


Signs and Symptoms

Variable, possibly inconsistent, history or physical findings 


  • Not willing or able to obtain adequate food/clothing/shelter

  • Not providing for personal hygiene/safety

  • De...



Observe details of the patient's environment that may not be immediately available to the hospital care team, including the following: 
  • Interpersonal interactions at the scene:

    • Emb...



Admission Criteria

Disposition determined by medical condition and home environment: 
  • Medical condition requiring admission

  • Abuse or neglect renders home conditions unsafe.

  • Need for m...

Pearls and Pitfalls

  • Entertaining the possibility of abuse or neglect in an elder patient offers the best possibility of diagnosis and successful intervention.

  • Only ∼1/3 of healthcare providers identifi...

Additional Reading

  • Clarke  ME, Pierson  W. Management of elder abuse in the emergency department. Emerg Med Clin North Am.  1999;17:631–644.

  • Cooper  C, Selwood  A, Livingston  G. Knowledge, detect...



  • 995.80 Adult maltreatment, unspecified

  • 995.81 Adult physical abuse

  • 995.82 Adult emotional/psychological abuse

  • 995.83 Adult sexual abuse

  • 995.84 Adult neglect (nutritional)

  • 995.85 Other adult abuse...

Subscribe to Access Full Content

Sign Up for a 10-Day Free Trial

Sign up for a 10-day FREE Trial now and receive full access to all content.