This section provides easier access to the Chair’s major research projects on older adult bullying, as well as the latest knowledge. You will find a brief overview on the progress of our work and the context in which it is applied, as well as a short presentation of each project. Our publications and the tools we have developed will be made available where possible.


Progress of the Chair’s work on older adult bullying

The Chair’s work began in 2014, following an invitation to attend the Anti-Bullying Forum. We first documented the older bullying phenomenon as well as to clarify its conceptualization based on the current gains made in countering mistreatment of older adults.

In November 2015, the implementation of the Concerted Action Plan to Prevent and Counter Bullying 2015-2018 (PACI) provided a framework but also diversified our work on this phenomenon. In fact, the Chair has been identified as a partner in achieving two measures: 

  • 3.16 aims to ‟Develop and disseminate awareness and information tools and training courses on the bullying of seniors taking into account knowledge gained on their mistreatment.”
  • 5.2 aims to ‟Document the phenomenon of bullying, including cyber-bullying, as it relates specifically to seniors, taking into account acquired knowledge on elder mistreatment and the available data relating to gender.”

The Chair currently leads three projects dealing with older adult bullying and aims at addressing each measure. By clicking on the project titles, you will have access to the detailed description and find more information on each of them.

One project resulting from measure 3.16:

Two projects resulting from measure 5.2:

A fourth project led by a student from the Chair can also address another PACI’s measure, although this one is not aimed specifically at older adults. It is the doctoral thesis of Marie-Ève Bédard and is entitled: Seniors’ rights: How the users' committees (UCs) in Quebec's health and social services centres (CSSS) cope with situations of mistreatment against older adults that are brought to their attention. In her thesis, Marie-Ève has the opportunity to study several situations of mistreatment of older adults encountered by the Users’ Committee. Some of the situations also showed signs of bullying. Although it is not the subject of her thesis, Marie-Ève initiated the drafting of a scientific article aiming at analyzing these situations of mistreatment from the bullying perspective.

Finally, in order to harmonize all the work carried out on bullying, a working committee was set up within the Chair. Thanks to this committee, key members who are working on projects related to bullying can exchange on the knowledge developed in their respective fields. The aim of this committee is also to reflect on the connections made between the work achieved for mistreatment and for bullying.


Knowledge developed by the Chair’s regarding older adult bullying 

Poster: Bullying (B) as a Strategy of Mistreatment (M) Among Older Adults: A study Submitted to Users’ Committees (In French Only)

This poster was presented by Marie-Ève Bédard during the 45th Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting of the Canadian Association of Gerontology (CAG) that took place in Montreal from October 20 to 22, 2016.


Poster: Mistreatment and Bullying Experienced by Older Adults : A systematic Literature Review

This poster was presented by Caroline Pelletier during the 45th Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting of the Canadian Association of Gerontology (CAG) that took place in Montreal from October 20 to 22, 2016.

The project is in the data collection stage. No written document has been published for now. This project will result in a practice guide intended for community organizations.


Essay:  Older Adult Cyber-Bullying: State of Knowledge and Exploring New Lines of Actions  (In French only) (Read english abstract)

In June 2016, Marika Lussier-Therrien completed her essay in the framework of her master’s degree in Social Work, under the direction of Marie Beaulieu. The aim of her essay is to outline the state of knowledge on older adult cyber-bullying and to explore new lines of actions based on a literature review as well as with interviews conducted with key actors.


 Brief: Older adult bullying (In French only)

The Chair has submitted this brief to the Ministry of Family in November 2014, following the Anti-Bullying Forum. It first introduces the state of knowledge on older adult bullying on the basis of a literature review and initiates a conceptual clarification between bullying and mistreatment. Then it outlines the Chair’s position on prevention and intervention avenues, as well as how to support actors committed to countering bullying.

Article: Older Adult Bullying: A Social Issue Related to Mistreatment? (In French only)

The Chair has published this article in the special issue on Bullying of the Université Laval’s Service social journal. It aims at deepening the conceptual clarification between bullying and mistreatment that was previously initiated in the brief by using actual situations. The main results were recorded in a summary table (In french only). To access the full article (In French only) , you must search through the Érudit data bank:

Bullying working committee

In order to continue the work on the conceptual clarification between bullying and mistreatment, the Chair has established a working committee on bullying that comprises active partners in countering mistreatment and bullying: the Ligne Aide Abus Aînés (Elder Abuse Help Line), the cutting-edge practice to counter mistreatment of older adults of the university-affiliated centre of social gerontology of the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal and DIRA-Estrie.


An innovative police practice model with older adults


In collaboration with the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) (City of Montréal Police Service), we developed new tools that are now available to understand the Integrated Police Response for Abused Seniors (IPRAS Model) and to implement such a practice in your own police service. 


You don’t have much time and want an insight of our process, read our four general overviews:

You want to know more about the model and its components, read our two research reports:

Your police service wants to engage in an ongoing improvement process of its practice with mistreated older adults, read the guide:

Your police service wants to see examples of tools and documents to implement the IPRAS Model and to ensure its perennially, consult the online toolkit developed and post online by the SPVM:

Finally, you want an insight of the overall process of our action research which extended over a three-year period consult the IPRAS’s project description.

This section gives you access to key events taken from the Chair's annual reports produced at the end of each of the past five years. By reading these documents, you will have a good idea of the main activities carried out by the Chair since its beginning in 2010.


This document reflects the ever-evolving research-based knowledge and practices regarding older adults mistreatment, and it is regularly updated.


In order to correctly quote our works presented below, we recommend you to use the following reference associated with our copyrights:

  • Leading Practice to Counter the Mistreatment of Older Adults, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal; Elder Mistreatment Helpline (LAAA); Research Chair on Mistreatment of Older Adults; Ministère de la Famille, Secrétariat aux aînés, Gouvernement du Québec, 2017. Terminology on the mistreatment of older adults. Find at

© Leading Practice to Counter the Mistreatment of Older Adults, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal; Elder Mistreatment Helpline (LAAA); Research Chair on Mistreatment of Older Adults; Ministère de la Famille, Secrétariat aux aînés, Gouvernement du Québec, 2017.


Download the most recent version of the Terminology on the mistreatment of older adults in PDF format


Definition of the mistreatment of older adults

“Mistreatment 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 adult, whether the person deliberately wants to cause harm or not.”

(inspired by the WHO (2002) The Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse; the notion of “intentionality” was not part of the original definition) 


Forms of mistreatment (manifestations)

Violence: Poor treatment of an older adult, or making the older adult act against his or her will, through the use of force and/or bullying*.

Neglect: Failure to show concern for the older adult, particularly by not taking appropriate action to meet his or her needs.


Intention behind mistreatment

Intentional mistreatment:  The person deliberately causes harm to the older adult.

Unintentional mistreatment: The person does not want to cause harm or does not understand the harm being caused.

NB: It is important to assess the signs and situation to avoid drawing hasty conclusions or labelling people.



Gestures, words or attitudes that negatively affect an individual’s psychological well-being or integrity.

Violence: Emotional blackmail, manipulation, humiliation, insults, infantilization, belittlement, verbal and non-verbal threats, disempowerment, excessive monitoring of activities, etc.

Neglect: Rejection, indifference, social isolation, etc.

Signs: Fear, anxiety, depression, withdrawal, reluctance to speak openly, mistrust, fearful interaction with one or several people, suicidal ideation, rapid decline of cognitive abilities, suicide, etc.

NB: Psychological mistreatment is without a doubt the most common and least apparent type of mistreatment: 

- It often accompanies other types of mistreatment.

- Its effects can be just as detrimental as those of other types of mistreatment.

Inappropriate gestures or actions, or absence of appropriate actions, which harm physical well-being or integrity.

Violence: Shoving, brutalizing, hitting, burning, force-feeding, inadequate medication administration, inappropriate use of restraints (physical or pharmacological), etc.

Neglect: Failure to provide a reasonable level of comfort and safety; failure to provide assistance with eating, grooming, hygiene or taking medication when the older adult is in a situation of dependency, etc.

Signs: Bruises, injuries, weight loss, deteriorating health, poor hygiene, undue delay in changing of incontinence briefs, skin conditions, unsanitary living environment, atrophy, use of constraints, premature or suspicious death, etc.

NB: Some signs of physical mistreatment may be mistaken for symptoms associated with certain health conditions. It is therefore preferable to request a medical and/or psychosocial assessment.

Non-consensual gestures, actions, words or attitudes with a sexual connotation, which are harmful to the person’s well-being, sexual integrity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Violence: Suggestive comments or attitudes, jokes or insults with a sexual connotation, homophobic, biphobic or transphobic comments, promiscuity, exhibitionist behaviours, sexual assault (unwanted touching, non-consensual sex), etc.

Neglect: Failure to provide privacy, failure to respect a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, treating older adults as asexual beings and/or preventing them from expressing their sexuality, etc.

Signs: Infections, genital wounds, anxiety when being examined or receiving care, mistrust, withdrawal, depression, sexual disinhibition, sudden use of highly sexualized language, denial of older adults’ sexuality, etc. 

NB: Sexual assault is above all an act of domination. Cognitive impairment may lead to disinhibition, which can result in inappropriate sexual behaviour. Not recognizing older adults’ sexuality is a form of mistreatment, and it also makes it more difficult to identify and report sexual mistreatment. It is also important to keep an eye out for pathological sexual attraction toward older adults (gerontophilia).

Illegal, unauthorized or dishonest acquisition or use of the older adult’s property or legal documents; lack of information or misinformation regarding financial or legal matters. 

Violence: Pressure to change a will, banking transactions without the person’s consent (use of a debit card, online banking, etc.), misappropriation of money or assets, excessive price charged for services provided, identity theft, etc.

Neglect: Failure to manage the person’s assets  in his or her best interest or to provide the necessary goods and/or services as required, failure to assess the person’s cognitive abilities, understanding and financial literacy, etc.

Signs: Unusual banking transactions, disappearance of valuable items, lack of money for regular expenses, limited access to information regarding the management of the person’s assets, etc.

NB: Older adults who are in a relationship of dependency (e.g., physical, emotional, social or business-related) are at a greater risk of being mistreated in this way. In addition to the financial and material implications, this type of mistreatment can affect older adults’ physical or psychological health by limiting their ability to fulfill their duties or meet their own needs.

Any infringement of individual and social rights and freedoms

Violence: Forced medical treatment, denial of the right to: choose, vote, enjoy one’s privacy, take risks, receive phone calls or visitors, practice one’s religion, express one’s sexual identity, etc.

Neglect: Lack of information or misinformation regarding the older adult’s rights, failure to assist the person in exercising his or her rights, failure to recognize the person’s capacities, etc.

Signs: Preventing the older adult from participating in making choices and decisions that affect his or her life, failure to respect the decisions made by the person, a family member answering on behalf of the older adult, restricting visits or access to information, isolation, complaints, etc.

NB: Violation of rights occurs in all types of mistreatment. Everyone fully retains their rights, whatever their age. Only a judge can declare a person incapacitated and can appoint a legal representative. Persons declared incapacitated still preserve their rights, within the limits of their capabilities.

Any discriminating situation created or tolerated by organizational procedure (private, public or community institutions providing all types of care and services), which compromise older adults’ ability to exercise their rights and freedoms.

Violence: Organizational conditions or practices that do not respect older adults’ choices or rights (e.g., services are provided in an abrupt manner), etc.

Neglect: Services ill-adapted to older adults’ needs,  insufficient or poorly understood instructions on the part of personnel, lack of resources, complex administrative procedures, inadequate training of staff, unmobilized staff, etc.

Signs: Treating the person as a number, inflexible care schedules, undue delays in service delivery, deterioration of the person’s state of health (wounds, depression, anxiety), complaints, etc.

NB: It is important to remain aware of organizational shortcomings that could violate the right of older adults to receive care and services, or that could lead to conditions that negatively affect the work of staff in charge of providing care or services.

Discrimination based on age, through hostile or negative attitudes, harmful actions or social exclusion.

Violence: Imposition of restrictions or social standards based on age, limited access to certain resources, prejudice, infantilization, scorn, etc.

Neglect: Failure to recognize or respond to ageist practices or comments, etc.

Signs: Failure to recognize a person’s rights, skills or knowledge, use of condescending language, etc. 

NB: We are all influenced, to varying degrees, by negative stereotypes and discourses about older adults.  These misguided assumptions lead us to misinterpret various situations, which can ultimately lead to mistreatment.

In situation of emergency

If you witness or are victim of a mistreatment situation and wish to obtain information or help, please contact the Elder Abuse Help Line (for Quebec residents).

1 888 489-ABUS (2287)

Our partners

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Contact details

Research Chair on Mistreatment of Older Adults
Research Centre on Aging – CIUSSS de l'Estrie - CHUS
1036, Belvédère Sud
Sherbrooke (Québec)
J1H 4C4

Telephone : 1 819 780-2220, extension 45621

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