According to the Justice Department, 10 percent of seniors are abused each year, with only 1 out of every 23 cases reported. The most likely victims are women, people with cognitive impairments, people without relatives, those with disabilities and those who are ill-housed, poor, physically weak or socially isolated.
Although more research is needed, most cases of elder abuse are perpetrated by known and trusted others, particularly family members (including adult children, spouses, and others). Abusers can be men or women, of any age, race, or socio-economic status.
Elder abuse can occur in the home and in residential care. In a domestic setting the abusive person may be a partner, ex-partner, relative or friend. This is a form of domestic violence. In care institutions, elderly residents are sometimes abused by professional carers.
Risk factors for elder abuse It’s difficult to take care of a senior who has many different needs, and it’s difficult to be elderly when age brings with it infirmities and dependence. Both the demands of caregiving and the needs of the elder can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur.
Risk Factors for Perpetration
Many factors in elder abuse arise through individual, relationship, community and societal influences. Elder abuse can be attributed to both the victim’s and the abuser’s social and biomedical characteristics, the nature of their relationship, and power dynamics, within their shared environment of family and friends.
Elder abuse is either an intentional act or a failure to act that causes harm to an older adult. Although all elder abuse cases are serious crimes, not all are felonies. Some are considered misdemeanors, which carry less severe legal penalties.
Elder abuse most often takes place in the home where the senior lives. It can also happen in institutional settings, especially long-term care facilities. It is estimated that more than 1 in 10 older adults experience some form of abuse.
Isolation of both older people and carers is a known risk factor for elder abuse. When combined with factors such as cultural diversity, older age and frailty, and poor health literacy, isolation is associated with increased risk for mistreatment and elder abuse.
Alcohol abuse, mental illness, history of violence or hostility, dependence on victim, stress. Social isolation, chronic illness or functional limitation, cognitive impairment, shared living arrangements with the abuser.