Information and Advice on Abuse

What to do if you are an older person experiencing abuse, or if you believe an older person that you know is being abused.

What is abuse?

Abuse against an older person can take many forms, such as physical, emotional, sexual and financial, as well as through neglect, and the impact of abuse can have devastating consequences for the victim.

Type of abuse


Emotional/Psychological abuse

bullying, verbal abuse, humiliation, threats of harm


withdrawal or denial of help and care that is needed causing hardship and suffering

Physical abuse

hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, burning, physical restraint, harmful medication

Sexual abuse


being forced to have sexual intercourse or perform sexual acts, indecent exposure or serious innuendos being stated

Financial abuse


theft, fraud, exploitation, forgery, misuse of powers of attorney, undue influence to hand over money or sign a will or bank withdrawal

Discriminatory abuse


being treated differently because of age, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability

Institutional abuse

repeated instances of poor or inadequate care



What are the signs of abuse?

If you identify with or recognise the behaviours below, you or someone you know may be suffering from abuse.


abuse advice booklet graphic



Signs to be aware of:

  • Acting fearfully or withdrawing
  • Signs of stress, anxiety or depression
  • Bruising or other physical injuries
  • An inability to pay normal bills or having unpaid bills

Signs that someone might be abusing an older person include:

  • Seeing a person verbally or physically abuse the older  person
  • A person speaking on behalf of the older person without consent
  • Injuries which occur regularly – black eyes, bruises or cuts
  • Conflicting stories about injuries
  • Unusual difficulty with finances – unpaid bills or debts

How to prevent abuse

  • Talk to your solicitor about a will and the need for power of attorney.
  • Seek independent legal advice before you sign official documents/papers.
  • Use an advocate or advocacy service to help make decisions.
  • Look after your health and consult your doctor if your notice any changes in your mood, memory and general physical wellbeing.
  • Keep in regular social contact with family, friends and neighbours.  
  • Consult the police for advice on how to make your home safe.


Useful contact numbers

If it is a medical or police emergency call 999 (24hrs)
If it is not an urgent police enquiry call 101 (24 hrs)

Do you need to report abuse to an Adult protection or safeguarding Coordinator (9am-5pm)

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9504 1744
Northern Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9441 3125
Southern Health Social Care Trust: 028 3741 2015
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9250 1277
Western Health and Social Care Trust: 028 7161 1366

Out of hours social services regional number (5pm- 9am)

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9504 9999
Northern Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9504 9999
Southern Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9504 9999
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9504 9999
Western Health and Social Care Trust: 028 9504 9999

Do you need more information or advice?

Action on Elder Abuse Helpline (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm)  
080 8808 8141

Do you need an Advocate?

Age NI advice and advocacy service (8am-7pm)
0808 808 7575

Do you need legal or financial advice?

Citizen Advice Bureau Northern Ireland
028 9023 6522

Do you want to make a complaint about a Health and Social Care regulated service?

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (9am- 5pm)
028 9051 7500

Do you need information on age discrimination?

The Equality Commission
028 9050 0600