[Elder abuse and emergency care units]

Psychol Neuropsychiatr Vieil. 2005 Sep;3(3):169-81.
[Article in French]


Elder abuse could present with various aspects: physical, psychological, sexual aggression, embezzlement, neglect or self-neglect. According to epidemiological studies, between two and ten percent of the elderly population are concerned, but only few cases are reported, but this rate will likely increase with the growing elderly population. This paper highlights the risk factors for elder abuse. Most of the time, abuse is perpetrated by family members or close relatives, who often are dependent on the victim. It could also be a usual mode of interrelationship in some families, in which careful attention should be paid for the risk of abuse against the younger generation. In emergency care units, physicians infrequently report elder abuse because they fear offending patients or families and believe they do not have appropriate assessment tools. Victims often have low self-esteem, do not want to admit their vulnerability and do not imagine a different way for living with their aggressor. However, assessment and management of elder abuse could be supportive if all members of the team are concerned with this issue and have received appropriate information and education. The best approach is to focus on both the patient and the caregiver and to accept that there are no other tool to reveal abuse than to obtain the confidence of the patient. Every people concerned should remain respectful with each individual and not experience feelings of guilt in this upsetting situation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Elder Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Relations
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors