The high prevalence of depression and dementia in elder abuse or neglect

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000 Feb;48(2):205-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2000.tb03913.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Black People
  • Black or African American
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Elder Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Texas
  • White People