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Relevance of Perpetrator Identity to Reporting Elder Financial and Emotional Mistreatment

NCJ Number
Journal of Applied Gerontology Volume: 39 Issue: 2 Dated: 2020 Pages: 221-225
Date Published
5 pages

This study investigated reasons for not reporting elder abuse to the authorities.


The National Elder Mistreatment Study (NEMS) found that 5.2 percent of community older adults experienced financial abuse, and 4.6 percent experienced emotional mistreatment in the past year. Unfortunately, most incidents of elder abuse were not reported to the authorities. In examining reasons for this non-reporting, the current study conducted a telephone survey of 774 NEMS participants 8 years after the original study. The survey inquired about past-year financial and emotional mistreatment, perpetrator status, and whether any of the episodes were reported to authorities. The survey found that 87.5 percent of financial abuse by family, friends, or acquaintances was not reported to authorities compared to non-reporting of 33 percent of financial abuse perpetrated by strangers. In cases of emotional mistreatment, 89.9 percent perpetrated by family, friends, and acquaintances was not reported, compared to 83.3 percent of cases that involved strangers. Reasons for non-reporting of emotional abuse were mostly related to “not wanting publicity” and “not wanting to get the perpetrator in trouble.” No consistent reason emerged for failure to report stranger-perpetrated mistreatment. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020