Background: The risk factors for mistreatment of older people include age, race, low income, functional or cognitive impairment, a history of violence, and recent stressful events. There is little information in the literature concerning the clinical profile of mistreated older people.
Objectives: To describe the characteristics of abused or neglected patients and to compare the prevalence of depression and dementia in neglected patients with that of patients referred for other reasons.
Design: A case control study.
Setting: Baylor College of Medicine Geriatrics Clinic at the Harris County Hospital District (Houston, Texas).
Patients: Forty-seven older persons referred for neglect and 97 referred for other reasons.
Intervention: Comprehensive geriatric assessment.
Measurements: Standard geriatric assessment tools.
Results: There was a statistically significant higher prevalence of depression (62% vs 12%) and dementia (51% vs 30%) in victims of self-neglect compared to patients referred for other reasons.
Conclusions: This is the first primary data study that highlights a high prevalence of depression as well as dementia in mistreated older people. Geriatric clinicians should rule out elder neglect or abuse in their depressed or demented patients.