Physical Abuse of Elderly Adults: Victim Characteristics and Determinants of Revictimization

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To describe victim characteristics and determinants of recurrent physical abuse of elderly.

DESIGN:

Multicenter retrospective analysis of multiple data systems to study victims of elder mistreatment in the greater Chicago metropolitan area.

SETTING:

Five teaching hospitals with Level 1 trauma centers.

PARTICIPANTS:

Individuals aged 60 and older treated for physical and sexual abuse between 2000 and 2011.

MEASUREMENTS:

History of revictimization was based on hospital admission histories, Adult Protective Services records, and self-report. Death records were also linked to participant files.

RESULTS:

Fifty-eight individuals (52.3%) out of 111 cases suffering physical abuse had documented histories of revictimization. Based on multivariable models, individuals who were female, widowed, diagnosed with dementia, and returning to the home where the perpetrator lived or visited were substantially more likely to be revictimized. Revictimized individuals were more likely to be assaulted through unarmed force by a proximal relative, in particular a husband, boyfriend, child, or child-in-law. Based on hospital records, only 57% of community-dwelling cases had their abuse reported to Adult Protective Services or the police, and only 26.6% had Adult Protective Services investigations on record.

CONCLUSION:

Better screening that connects victims of abuse with community services, police action, and alternative residential options is important in reducing the risk of revictimization and connecting individuals with resources that can improve their safety at home, regardless of whether it is in the community or a residential facility.

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