Elder abuse is usually when someone who is in a relationship with an elderly person, whether through their work or an intimate relationship engages in physical or financial impropriety that causes
harm to the elderly person.
Elder abuse is considered an intentional act designed to harm the elderly person. Examples include sexual abuse, physical assault, theft, and so on.
In contrast, elder neglect can be unintentional or inadvertent. Examples of elder neglect can be having an elderly parent and not ensuring that they have clean clothes to wear or that they are properly cleaned up or showered or toileted and the like, as they would be if properly cared for. Some type of neglect can be easily remedied — for example by educating the care giver, bringing in additional help, or providing a more structured living situation. However, neglect can quickly turn to elder abuse, for example, when a caretaker does not provide sufficient food or medicine for an elderly person.
Elder abuse and elder neglect are on a spectrum, but they frequently overlap.