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Posted: August 26, 2008

More and More Elderly Report Being Abused

About 13% of all elderly Americans are mistreated, usually by someone who verbally mistreats or financially takes advantage of them, according to a University of Chicago study -- the first comprehensive look at elder mistreatment in the country.

 

"The population of the country is aging, and people now live with chronic diseases longer. So it's important to understand, from a health perspective, how people are being treated as they age," said lead author Edward Laumann, the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology at the University of Chicago.

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Other studies have been based on small, non-representative samples of the population or on data gathered from the criminal justice system or welfare agencies, such as adult protection services. They are not as comprehensive as the new study, which was made in response to a report from the National Research Council calling for scientific study of elder mistreatment.

 

Laumann and his research team found that 9% of adults reported verbal mistreatment, 3.5% reported financial mistreatment and 0.2% reported physical mistreatment. Physical impairment apparently plays a role in mistreatment, the study found.

 

"Older people with any physical vulnerability are about 13% more likely than those without one to report verbal mistreatment but are not more likely to report financial mistreatment," said co-author Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower Professor in Sociology at the university.

 

Their study showed that adults in their late 50s and 60s are more likely to report verbal or financial mistreatment than those who are older.

 

"Perhaps the respondents are including fairly routine arguments, perhaps about money, with their spouse, sibling or child in their reports or perhaps older adults are more reticent to report negative behavior," Laumann said.

 

The findings, which found wide variations in mistreatment depending on age and ethnicity, were reported in "Elder Mistreatment in the US: Prevalence Estimates from a Nationally-Representative Study," published in the current issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.

 

The study found that females were about twice as likely to report verbal mistreatment, but no higher level of financial mistreatment, than men; Latinos were about half as likely as whites to report verbal mistreatment and 78% less likely to report financial mistreatment; and blacks were 77% more likely to report financial mistreatment than whites.

 

(Article courtesy of ConsumerAffairs.com)

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