09/15/2007 - News

Elder Abuse: More Common Than You Might Think

By: Robert W. Griffith, MD


Elder Abuse: More Common Than You Might Think

Robert W. Griffith, MD

A study from Israel, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, reminds us to be on the watch for physical or mental abuse in elderly people in particular situations. The study, which was done in 2 major medical centers, involved 730 men and women aged 70 and older.

As many as 6% of the subjects, when asked directly, admitted to being abused by a family caregiver; the types of abuse included physical and verbal mistreatment, neglect, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation. The investigators went further; they used additional indicators of abuse obtained by physical examination and extensive interviews, including discussions with the principal caregiver.

This extended screening revealed that 21% of the subjects had evident signs of abuse, while 32% were at high risk for abuse. The associated risk factors for abuse included emotional instability and poor family relationships in both caregivers and patients.

Physical attacks by strangers on the elderly are not uncommon (' granny-bashing' is the term used in the UK ). Incidents of abuse in nursing homes are also far too frequent. This present study deals with old folk living in the community, with a family caregiver. Whatever the situation, we should be alert to the possibility of abuse for our older loved ones - after all, we may all be in their shoes, one day.

HealthandAge Blog

Created on: 09/15/2007
Reviewed on: 09/15/2007

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