More than one in 10 elderly adults experience mistreatment

Elder mistreatment is a common problem, with poor self-reported health tied to increased later risk for mistreatment, according to a study published online Aug. 12 in JAMA Network Open.

David Burnes, Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues estimated the incidence of elder mistreatment and identified factors associated with the risk for new cases. The analysis included telephone survey results (wave 1: 2009; wave 2: 2019) from 628 community-dwelling older adults from New York state.

The researchers found that 10-year incidence rates were 11.4 percent for overall elder mistreatment, 8.5 percent for financial abuse, 4.1 percent for emotional abuse, 2.3 percent for physical abuse, and 1.0 percent for neglect. There was an increased risk at wave 2 for new overall mistreatment (odds ratio [OR], 2.86), emotional abuse (OR, 3.67), physical abuse (OR, 4.21), and financial abuse (OR, 2.80) for those with poor self-rated health at wave 1. Black participants were at heightened risk for overall mistreatment (OR, 2.61) and financial abuse (OR, 2.80) compared with non-Hispanic White respondents. There was an association noted between change from coresidence to living alone and an increased risk for financial abuse (OR, 2.74).

“These findings suggest that health care visits may be important opportunities to detect at-risk older adults,” the authors write.