New study: Elder abuse prevalent, more likely to happen to those with poor health


ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – A new study from Cornell University and the University of Toronto suggests that more than 1 in 10 older adults may become victims of elder abuse over the next decade. 

Mistreatment incidences were tracked over 10 years among hundreds of older people who hadn’t previously been victims, and the study shows that elder abuse is widespread and shows different risk factors that could help prevent it from happening.

In the study, researchers determined poor health is a major risk factor for mistreatment, and that people who transition to living alone are more likely to suffer financial abuse. Black older adults are also at higher risk of financial abuse, which was a factor that was previously unreported. 

“This study contributes to a growing base of evidence that elder mistreatment is a highly prevalent problem that demands a vigorous public health response,” said senior author Karl Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell and gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Previous studies have shown elder mistreatment to affect 15.7% of older adults globally and 9.5% of older people in the US, but researchers said those didn’t reach very clear conclusions about the causes of the problem. This new study explores the impact of poor health leading to or being caused by mistreatment. 

Of the hundreds of older adults being surveyed, 11.4% reported that they had been victims of elder mistreatment. Financial abuse was the most common type, affecting 8.5% of respondents, followed by emotional abuse at 4.1%, physical abuse at 2.3%, and neglect at 1%. 

You can read more about the study and its findings here.

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