This resource summarizes the findings of a series of studies that have identified the critical role of social support in preventing and ameliorating the adverse effects of elder abuse.
Recent longitudinal research on elder abuse in the United States found that such abuse is a significant risk factor for a range of adverse outcomes such as frequent use of hospital emergency services, suicidal ideation, anxiety, loneliness, and death. The National Elder Abuse Mistreatment Study (Acierno et al., 2010) found that nearly all forms of elder abuse were associated with low social support, meaning that poor social support can lead to elder mistreatment and that mistreatment can also cause lower levels of social support. These and other studies of elder abuse cited in this article show that elder mistreatment has a long-lasting impact on a range of health and mental health issues; however, the social support one perceives to have in her/his life apparently protects against the adverse effects of elder abuse. There is evidence that social support has these positive effects even when taking into account various demographic factors. These findings suggest the importance of providing community services and activities that increase interactive social support for the elderly, such as senior centers and congregate meal programs. Such exposure to positive social interactions may prevent elderly persons from becoming abuse victims and assist in alleviating adverse outcomes for those abused in the past. 8 references