A review article published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine reveals a deeply troubling statistic: 1 in every 10 older adults is a victim of some form of violence or abuse.
Worse, researchers point out, this figure is all but certainly a vast underestimate considering it’s based on self-reported cases. When you consider that many victims suffer from dementia or isolation that makes them prime targets to start, these individuals may not have the ability to report what’s happening to them.
Still, even this estimate underscores how widespread the problem is, and the fact that families must be on alert for potential problems.
Interestingly, although elder abuse has been in existed in some form since the dawn of humanity, it wasn’t described by Western researchers until the early 1970s. In most cases, attempts to define the problem or respond to it have largely been limited because most studies focused on a small number of anecdotes. Even those that attempted to broaden the understanding were mostly flawed epidemiologically. That has started to change in the last decade, and that’s how we have come to this greater understanding about how serious this problem actually is. Continue reading →