Shame is a complex set of attitudes, feelings and behaviours that tend to motivate hiding and, if provoked, can lead to conflict with others. It is also related to the exercise of power within the relationship of care and therefore may be a relevant factor if older adults are forced to accept increased dependency. There are no systematic enquiries into shame processes and older psychiatric patients. The experience of trait and situational shame and psychopathology was explored with 50 older psychiatric patients, using a range of questionnaire measures. As predicted, trait shame correlated significantly with anxiety and depression scores. There was preliminary evidence to suggest that being in need of others may be shame-provoking for some patients and may have a bearing on why some patients fear dependency, conceal symptoms and have conflicted relationships with carers.