Violence In Older Adults: Scope, Impact, Challenges, And Strategies For Prevention

Health Aff (Millwood). 2019 Oct;38(10):1630-1637. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00577.


Although often perceived to be a problem of the young, violence commonly affects older adults, a rapidly growing segment of the population. Violence can be directed toward older adults (elder abuse and intimate partner violence), self-directed (suicide), or perpetrated by older adults against others (intimate partner violence and violence in dementia). Across forms of violence, firearm access increases lethality, and veterans may be a particularly high-risk population. The forms of violence in older adults have some common risk factors (such as medical or psychiatric illness) and common challenges for prevention (such as balancing autonomy and well-being in vulnerable adults). The integration of prevention strategies across the life span, disciplines, and forms of violence offers promise for promoting older adult health and well-being. Looking forward, key areas for attention will include raising awareness about these topics and prioritizing funding for the implementation and evaluation of violence prevention interventions in health care settings and the community.

Keywords: Cognitive impairment; Dementia; Elder abuse; Firearms; Health policy; Mental disorders; Mental health; Older adults; Post traumatic stress disorder; Primary care providers; Suicide; Violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Elder Abuse / prevention & control
  • Elder Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / prevention & control
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Veterans