"A single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” Laws protecting the elderly from abuse are similar to and related to, laws protecting from abuse.
It includes harms by people the older person knows, or has a relationship with, such as a spouse, partner, or family member; a friend or neighbor; or people that the older person relies on for services. Many forms of elder abuse are recognized as types of or family violence since they are committed by family members. Paid caregivers have also been known to prey on their elderly patients.
While a variety of circumstances are considered elder abuse, it does not include general criminal activity against older persons, such as home break-ins, "muggings" in the street, or "distraction burglary", where a stranger distracts an older person at the doorstep while another person enters the property to steal.
Although elders who have dementia or mental illness commonly make false accusations of theft and other forms of abuse by caregivers or family members, all reports of abuse must be investigated.