Elder abuse is “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.” This definition has been adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) from a definition put forward by Action on Elder Abuse in the UK.

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 domestic violence or family violence since they are committed by family members.

Elder abuse can include neglect, physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse. However, abuse can be seen and stopped. It is up to all of us to prevent and report suspected abuse. Here are some signs of elder abuse that everyone should know:

Emotional & Behavioral Signs
> Unusual changes in behavior or sleep
> Fear or anxiety
> Isolated or not responsive
> Sadness
Physical Signs
> Broken bones, bruises, and welts
> Cuts, sores or burns
> Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
> Sexually transmitted diseases without clear explanation
> Dirtiness, poor nutrition or dehydration
> Poor living conditions
> Missing daily living aids (glasses, walker, and medications)
Financial Signs
> Unusual changes in bank account or money management
> Unusual or quick changes in a will or other financial documents
> Fake signatures on financial documents
> Unpaid bills

Reporting Abuse: Elders Helpline 1090 (toll free number) – a joint project of the Bangalore City Police and Nightingales Medical Trust, has been set up to tackle the problems of elder abuse in Bangalore since 2002. This initiative is supported by the Department for the Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens, Govt. of Karnataka. The Helpline 1090 propagates Nightingales Medical Trust’s vision of ensuring a life of dignity and security to all elders by combating harassment and abuse and since its inception it has been handling an average of 40 calls per day.

Elders can call the Helpline 1090 to reach out for help and assistance against all forms of abuse. Our committed staff comprising of social workers, counselors, volunteers, legal professionals and police personnel are skilled to sensitively and tactfully solve cases that are reported here. Elders can be assured of emotional support from the helpline staff during the course of intervention. Assistance and advice on legal matters, information on various service providers for elderly can also be availed through this helpline.


  • Prompt intervention when elders in distress call for help
  • Timely support, reconciliation and reunion in family disputes
  • Facilitating police intervention in serious cases
  • Rehabilitation & counseling
  • Interacting with other service agencies and government departments
  • Information on service providers for elderly and other needs of elderly
  • Tracing down missing/ straying elders
  • Creating awareness about elders’ rights, children’s responsibilities and involvement of the public in minimizing crime and violence against elders
  • Free legal advice on Thursdays & Saturdays
  • Facilities for alternative dispute resolution methods
  • Processing of identity cards for senior citizens
  • Awareness programmes / talks on issues pertaining to rights of elders

Since 2002 we have received more than 1,60,666 calls, and as many as 8,662 complaints have been registered of which 4,521 (53%) are resolved. All the services at the helpline are free of cost.