The abuse includes verbal incidents, such as shouting, but some carers also physically assault the person in their care, the study claims.
According to experts at the University College London (UCL), 115 out of 220 carers questioned said they had been abusive to the person in their care, and 74 said they used ‘significant’ levels of abuse often.
The results, which are to be published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found verbal abuse, such as swearing was the most common type reported, but three carers also said they occasionally used physical abuse.
Dr Claudia Cooper, from the UCL department of mental health sciences, who led the study, said: ‘Many people think about elder abuse in terms of “lashing out” and other similar acts, but abuse as defined by Government guidelines can be as simple as shouting or swearing at the person being cared for.
‘We found few cases of physical or frequent abuse, although those with the most abusive behaviour may have been reluctant to report it,’ she said.
Carers were asked to state how often in the last three months they had acted in psychologically and physically abusive ways.