Official State of Iowa Website

Abuse of Older Persons and Dependent Adults

Abuse can happen to anyone. When it happens to a person who is 60 or older, it can be elder abuse or dependent adult abuse. Abuse can happen anywhere, including the person’s home, whether it is in their own house, a family member’s house, or an assisted living or nursing home. Abuse can also happen outside of a person’s home in places like hospitals or anywhere an older person spends time. Anyone can abuse an older person—spouses, family members, friends, strangers, health care providers, professionals, spiritual leaders, caregivers, friends, and others.

There are different types of abuse: physical; emotional or psychological; financial; neglect; sexual; and personal degradation. There may also be times that an older person is suffering harm because they are not able to adequately tend to their own physical or mental needs. This is called self-neglect. Because it results from a person’s lack of ability to address their own needs and not as a result of harm caused by someone else, it is not considered to be a form of elder abuse.