Created By: GracieLizzie on April 27, 2012 Last Edited By: DunDun on April 25, 2013
Troped

Elder Abuse

When an eldery person is abused by a family member, or other supposed care-giver.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

When you hear the term "victim of abuse" who do you picture? Someone being beaten or otherwise mistreated by their partner, a child or teenager being harmed, threatened, or neglected by their parents? Yes these are all real, and horrible, truths however there are others who can frequently find themselves victims of abuse and one such group in society that does often find themselves in this scenario?

The elderly. Older people are often vulnerable, especially those who have Alzheimers or some other form of dementia, or who have communication issues which can make it difficult or even impossible for them to speak out about against their abusers. Even older people who don't have dementia or other issues can sometimes find in difficult to get out of such a scenario, especially if their abuser is a primary care giver and they have mobility problems. Then there's the fact that their abusers could be their children, and their natural parental instinct to protect their child and therefore resist the urge to report the situation to the authorities could very well be in play.

Like any other abuse there are several different types of elder abuse, the most frequent definition is given as "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" and the subtypes are by and large the same ones as within Abusive Parents and Domestic Abuse and as with those they can overlap:
  • Physical Abuse - hitting, striking, spitting at, or other physical force used against an elderly person
  • Verbal Abuse - swearing at, belittling, and demeaning an older person
  • Emotional and Psychological Abuse - manipulating someones emotions so that they do things for you or by making them feel terrible about themselves, playing mind games
  • Financial Abuse - stealing money or valuables, either directly or by blackmail or coercion
  • Neglect - Simply ignoring their needs, be that their physical needs or their mental and emotional ones
  • Sexual abuse - Rape and sexual coercion of the elderly

When elder abuse appears on television it can be portrayed in several different ways. Sometimes it appears in a "Very Special Episode" manner, written in by the creators to attempt to highlight the issue. However other times there are cases where it is Played for Laughs, used as a throw away joke and forgotten about - the primary type in this category tends to be neglect and sometimes verbal abuse.


Examples:

Fairy Tales and Mythology
  • The old fable in which a man kicks his elderly father out of the house with only half a blanket. He then sees his son tearing a blanket in half, and when the father asks why, "One day you too will be old."

[[AC:Film
  • Seven Pounds: Tim decides against donating one of his organs to a retirement home director after finding out the home mistreats their patients.

Live-Action Television
  • The verbal, psychological, financial, and physical abuse of Sandy by his son, the local vicar, Ashley in Emmerdale was a story arc.
  • The Golden Girls has an episode that focuses on elder abuse.
  • Malcolm in the Middle eventually Francis gets Commandant Edwin Spangler fired as the head of his Military School but then gets him placed in a retirement home instead where he proceeds to engage in elder abuse as per his sadist tendencies.
  • In the ER episode "Refusal of Care" Abby suspects one patient, an elderly woman on hunger strike attempting to prevent the deportation of her son, is a victim of this when said son shows up and appears to care little about the woman's predicament.
  • Elder abuse has been the theme/motif of many an episode of various Law & Order series' episodes.
  • The X-Files episode "Excelsis Dei" was about an eponymous nursing home where the residents were often mentally and sometimes physically abused by the staff. A few get a rather supernatural form of revenge though.

Video Games
  • God of War 2 gets the player to partake in elder abuse via a quick time event in which you have to brutally beat and kill a helpless protesting eldery scholar in order to get him to read a book you can't.

Western Animation
  • In the The Simpsons sometimes shows the Springfield Retirement Castle where Abe "Grandpa" Simpson lives as having rather neglectful staff in many episodes when it comes to the residents emotional needs, in one episode the staff even destroy the Wii Lisa gave them. Also Homer would seemingly be happy to leave his father in there and never see him at all, at one point Homer even tried to light a pile of junk on fire, which his dad was buried in. It was implied he knew his father was in said pile of junk.

Rolling Updates
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • April 27, 2012
    DunDun
    It's definitely tropable. I remember Elder Abuse being the theme/motif of many an episode of various Law And Order series' episodes.

    By the by, the usual name for this type of abuse is Elderly Abuse ("abusing the elderly"), so you may want to change the name.
  • April 28, 2012
    GracieLizzie
    I seem to get more hits on Google for Elder Abuse than Elderly Abuse (which to me sounds like the abuse itself is elderly, rather than abuse of an elder). Okay anyone have any more examples? I definitely think it's an article worth having. I'll start to build the "meat" of the potential trope page once we have a few more examples.
  • April 28, 2012
    nman
    I'd suggest taking out the word "recently" in that Emmerdale example. Also, I am really sure that an episode of Lie To Me involved this, but I'd have to check.
  • April 28, 2012
    GracieLizzie
    Have done. Also as I've been collecting these, does it strike anyone that many of these examples are abuse by care home staff, whereas according to some statics I've been reading (in the UK at least) most elder abuse takes place in private homes? I wonder if there is anything cultural to that?
  • April 28, 2012
    captainsandwich
    in Simpsons the care takers also destroyed the elders wii (that lisa gave them). Homer tried to light a pile of junk on fire, which his dad was buried in. It is implied he knew his father was in said pile of junk.
  • April 28, 2012
    SKJAM
    The old fable in which a man kicks his elderly father out of the house with only half a blanket. He then sees his son tearing a blanket in half, and when the father asks why, "One day you too will be old."
  • April 29, 2012
    GracieLizzie
    I'll add that but maybe I missed the point, who saw who? The way you've put it has confused me a little.
  • May 5, 2012
    GracieLizzie
    Bumping to see if we can get any more examples.
  • May 10, 2012
    GracieLizzie
    I would like to get some more hats, anyone willing to tell me what this is missing?
  • May 13, 2012
    GracieLizzie
    I know this only has one hat but I am tempted to launch this. I'm going to leave this 24 hours before hand though to see if anyone can offer any other points.
  • September 22, 2012
    Psi001
    • It should perhaps be noted that Homer's treatment of Abe is sometimes treated as karmic, given he often was comically neglectful and sometimes outright abusive to Homer as a child. There are sometimes implications that he may face similar treatment from his own kids when he ages.

    • If it wasn't always Played For Laughs, the number of times Victor Meldrew is brutally assaulted by some irate civilian over some mishap or minor slight in One Foot In The Grave would be rather disturbing. It is actually Played For Drama in one episode, where he discovers an abusive care home. He takes great pleasure in rescuing it's residents and getting terrible revenge on the nurses. The owner attempts to justify this treatment beforehand.
      Miss Lander: I have to look after the welfare of all my residents, not just one or two! You haven't the first understanding of the way their minds work, or the destructive behaviour they're capable of!
      Victor: I'm sorry? Uh, what language are you talking in now? It appears to be BOLLOCKS!
  • September 22, 2012
    Ghilz
    Happens in Happy Gilmore. The director of the old folks home Happy leaves his Grandmother at runs the place like a forced labor camp, while spying on her and threatening her during Happy's visits so she never complains.
  • September 22, 2012
    Psi001
    • This is actually toned down from the orignal edit, where he actually forces the elderly to act as a phone sex hotline and spitefully bans Grandma Gilmore from watching Happy on TV. Unlike the final toned down edit however (where he is not heard from again and so supposedly gets away with everything) Happy finds out about his abuse and delivers a brutal comupance, while the elderly gleefully escape.
  • April 20, 2013
    DunDun
  • April 20, 2013
    robybang
    • Seven Pounds: Tim decides against donating one of his organs to a retirement home director after finding out the home mistreats their patients.
  • April 20, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    The X-Files episode "Excelsis Dei" was about an eponymous nursing home where the residents were often mentally and sometimes physically abused by the staff. A few get a rather supernatural form of revenge though.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=66aqz4sbyfgq4h93phtudb9n&trope=ElderAbuse