There is growing recognition that there ought to be concern about the phenomena of elder abuse. To a significant extent the foundation for this recognition lies with instruments for the protection and promotion of human rights. There are also implicit assumptions that the assertion of rights coincides with the realisation of rights. Infringements on rights can be subtle and difficult to quantify and remedies for these infringements difficult to pursue. This discussion will critically review one narrative concerning the ways in which institutions can compromise the human rights of older people even though this may not be intended.