A case-comparison analysis of elder abuse and neglect

Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1989;28(3):207-25. doi: 10.2190/WW91-L3ND-AWY3-R042.


This study examines factors which contribute to elderly abuse and neglect by caregivers in a domestic setting. Methodological and conceptual variations and problems in previous studies have led to considerable confusion as to the determinants of this important social problem. A more rigorous research design was used in this study than has been previously employed. Fifty-nine abused elders from a model project site for the study of elderly abuse were compared with forty-nine non-abused clients from a home care program in the same agency. Using a research instrument designed by the authors, data related to the following aspects of the lives of the elders and their caregivers were collected: psychological status, stressful life events, social networks, mutual dependency, and the nature of their relationships. The study indicates that members of abusive families are more likely to have emotional problems which contribute to interpersonal difficulties. Abused elders are not more dependent on caregivers for many of their daily needs. However, the abused elderly and their caregivers have become increasingly interdependent prior to the onset of abuse because of the loss of other family members, increased social isolation, and the increased financial dependency of the perpetrator on the elderly person.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Elder Abuse*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Isolation
  • Stress, Psychological