What Might Adult Abuse Look Like?

General Signs and Examples of Abuse

  • Frequent arguments between the carer and the elderly person.
  • Changes in personality or behaviour in the person being abused.

Sign and Examples of Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained signs of injury like bruises, burns or scars, or more serious injuries such as broken bones which have no reasonable explanation.
  • Individuals reportedly taking too much of their medicines or not taking their medicines regularly (too much of a prescription remaining).
  • Signs of being restrained, such as bruises on the wrists.
  • Staff in a care home refusing to allow you to see the elderly person alone.

Signs and Examples of Emotional Abuse

  • Behaviour which threatens, belittles or controls a vulnerable person.
  • Unusual behaviour in the abused person such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to themselves or distress.

Signs and Examples of Neglectful Behaviour

  • Unusual weight loss because of not eating or drinking sufficient; this may be because the person is not getting sufficient help to feed themselves.
  • Untreated physical problems, such as bedsores.
  • Dirty clothes or soiled bedding.
  • Being left dirty or unbathed.
  • Unsafe living conditions (lack of heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards such as hoarding).

Sign and Examples of Financial Exploitation or Abuse

  • Significant or unexplained withdrawals from the person’s bank account.
  • Items of jewellery or cash missing.
  • Unexpected or suspicious changes in wills, or power of attorney.
  • Addition of names to the person’s signature card.
  • Unexpected or unneeded subscriptions for goods or services.

Acknowledgement of Abuse

It can be particularly difficult for the abused person to acknowledge what is happening, or talk to someone, because:

  • the person abusing them may be someone they love such as a family member.
  • they feel guilty or that they have behaved ill-advisedly.
  • the person abusing them is someone they depend on for daily care or financial support.
  • they are frightened of the consequences if they tell someone


If you are suspicious or have any concerns for a child you can help by contacting the right people to share your concerns.

Please use our Reporting A Concern page to contact the appropriate service. If you are worried that there is immediate danger of harm then you should contact the police.