Elder abuse

According to research, older people are more likely to experience abuse than younger generations. Changes in family patterns in modern society can lead to emotional and financial hardship for senior citizens. The elderlies’ position can become even more vulnerable when they fear greater loneliness awaiting them if they complain about aggression or outright violence by relatives or caretakers.

Abuse can be of various kinds.

  • Mental abuse is when someone threatens you, belittles you or makes you feel bad.
  • Physical abuse is when someone hurts you, for example, pinches you, punches you, holds you, kicks you, beats you, or abuses your medication. Marks, lacerations, unexplained injuries, burns and poor skin condition is also physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse is when someone gropes you, makes you do something sexual that you don’t want to do or when you could not consent to something due to impairment.
  • Financial abuse is when someone extorts money from you, steals or misuses your money or creates pressure regarding the use of your money. Also when a financial guardian doesn’t supply necessities, money for necessities is lacking or when documents are signed without you understanding their content.
  • Digital abuse is when someone uses devices or technology to monitor you, threaten you, harass you or humiliate you.
  • Negligence is when physical care or medication is not properly taken care of. If an elderly individual is visibly malnourished or suffers from dehydration, has poor clothing or doesn’t receive care due to illness or injuries, then it is also negligence, as well as when a caretaker does not take care of the elderly’s need for health care.

You can contact 112 if you feel that someone has violated your rights or abused you.

You can talk online to 112 if you suspect that you are experiencing abuse.

The police improve the service for the elderly who are abused

A big change has taken place in recent years regarding how the police approach abuse cases. In the past, the perpetrators received more attention, but with an effort and education within the police, more attention has since been paid to the victims. A recent report published by the National Commissioner of Police's research department, paints a clear picture of the situation regarding abuse of the elderly, not least with view of the impact of the Coronavirus on the Icelandic community.

Authorities are currently working on various projects to combat abuse of the elderly. The aim is to better protect vulnerable groups of the elderly from abuse and to make it easier for them to get help.

Elder abuse

Animation video that helps explain the different types of elder abuse. What is elder abuse?

Do you recognize abuse?

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Ólafur is a modest man in his eighties who lives in his own home. One of his grandchildren, Hrafnhildur, often helps him with things that are difficult for him, such as going to the store and paying bills. Ólafur gave Hrafnhildur access to his online bank for this purpose.

A few months later when Ólafur was going to buy himself a new sofa it turned out that Hrafnhildur had regularly transferred money from his account to hers. He does not believe that she has been stealing but when he asks her about this she says she thinks she deserves this and will not pay him back.

Is this abuse?


The Red Cross Helpline 1717 is a phone service and webchat for those who need someone to talk to in confidentiality. They are open 24 hours, and it's free to call.


Bjarkarhlíð is a center for people who have experienced abuse. There you get all the support and counseling you need in one place. All assistance is on your terms.

Bjarmahlíð in Akureyri

Bjarmahlíð is a center for people who have experienced abuse. There you get all the support and counseling you need in one place. All assistance is on your terms.

Abuse in close relationships

Abuse is a form of violence when someone hurts you, or does or says things to make you upset. It is abuse in close relationships when the person abusing is a relative or is closely connected to you. Abuse occurs regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity or any other reason.

Manneskja í fjötrum. Hún er með lokuð augu og er leið á svipinn og heldur þétt utan um sig. Rauður þykkur borði er vafinn utan um hana.


It is neglect when a person does not receive the assistance they need in order to feel well.