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National Elder Mistreatment Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2008
182 pages
This report presents the methodology and results of a national epidemiological study designed to determine the prevalence and risk factors for the mistreatment of older adults residing in community housing.
The elder mistreatment assessment strategy used in this study proved effective in detecting all forms of abuse of elderly persons, including physical, sexual, emotional, neglectful, or financial abuse. Past-year prevalence for various types of abuse were 5.1 percent for emotional abuse, 1.6 percent for physical abuse, 0.6 percent for sexual abuse, 5.1 percent for potential neglect, and 5.1 percent for financial exploitation by family members. Lifetime financial exploitation by a stranger was 6.5 percent. For emotional, physical, sexual abuse, and potential neglect, 11 percent reported at least one form of past-year abuse; 1.2 percent reported two or more forms of past-year abuse; and 0.2 percent reported three forms of abuse. Risk factors for abuse were low household income (less than $35,000 per year for all members of the household); being unemployed or retired; poor health; a prior traumatic event; reported low levels of social support; and assistance with activities of daily living. Random digit dialing was used to obtain a nationally representative sample of 5,777 older adults based on age, race, and gender. Participants were interviewed on the phone in English or Spanish about a variety of mistreatment types and risk factors, as well as health, social support, and demographics. Proxy reports were not useful in identifying abuse, with the exception of family-member perpetrated financial exploitation. This suggests that alternative methods for determining elder-abuse prevalence must be developed for cognitively impaired older adults who reside in the community. 33 exhibits, 28 references, and appended questionnaire

Date Published: March 1, 2008