The aim of this study was to analyse how Swedish district nurses denned and identified abuse of elderly people in practice Twenty-one district nurses were interviewed by means of open-ended questions and their responses were analysed qualitatively The main findings related to a central theme ‘overriding the boundaries of a person's integrity/autonomy’ and four categories, the act of abuse, the relationship between the abused person and the perpetrator, the experience of the abused person and the intention of the perpetrator The reasoning of the district nurses focused on these issues The district nurses included various aspects in the process of identifying abuse of elderly people and the findings demonstrate the complexity of the practitioner's situation This seems logical since such abuse is complex and involves many aspects, which makes the diagnostic process difficult The findings may be useful for nurses when they assess and intervene in abuse of elderly people Thus, the significance of this study is mainly practical