Elder abuse in the community: Prevalence and consequences

Hannie C. Comijs*, Anne Margriet Pot, Johannes H. Smit, Lex M. Bouter, Cees Jonker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: (1) To assess the prevalence and the consequences of chronic verbal aggression, physical aggression, financial mistreatment, and neglect in a community-based sample; (2) to investigate the circumstances that led to the abuse and the ways in which the victims handled the problem. DESIGN: Prevalence was assessed in a population-based sample of 1797 older people living independently in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In a follow-up study I year later, the victims were questioned again about the background and consequences of the abuse. RESULTS: The 1-year prevalence of elder abuse was 5.6%. The prevalence of the various types of elder abuse was: verbal aggression 3.2%, physical aggression 1.2%, financial mistreatment 1.4%, and neglect 0.2%. Most victims reported emotional reactions immediately after the abuse. Seven of 36 victims experienced physical or financial damage as a consequence of the abuse. More than 70% of the victims were able to stop the abuse, either by themselves or with the help of others. CONCLUSION: The rate of occurrence and the consequences of elder abuse in the Netherlands was established. Elder abuse is more widely spread if not only close relatives or people with whom the older person lives are considered as possible perpetrators but other familiar and trusted people are considered as well. Intervention should be focused on the roughly 40% of victims who were not able to stop the abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-888
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998

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