Senior citizens maltreated by family members, others

August 23rd, 2008 - 12:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 23 (IANS) Nearly 13 percent of America’s senior citizens suffer verbal, fianancial or physical maltreatment at the hands of family members and others, according to a study. The research was conducted by a team led by Edward O. Laumann at the University of Chicago and based on interviews with over 3,000 residents aged 57 to 85.

“The population of the country is aging, and people now live with chronic diseases longer. So it’s important to understand, from a health perspective, how people are being treated as they age,” Laumann said.

Older adults who are physically impaired are particularly susceptible to abuse. This demographic is 13 percent more likely to experience verbal mistreatment than those without similar handicaps - although there was no evidence to suggest they suffer greater financial mistreatment.

The Chicago researchers also found that women were nearly twice as likely to report verbal mistreatment, but no higher level of financial mistreatment, than men.

Most elders reported that the mistreatment was perpetrated by someone other than a member of their immediate family. Of those who reported verbal mistreatment, 26 percent identified their spouse or romantic partner as the person responsible; 15 percent said their child verbally mistreated them; and 57 percent said that the mistreating party was someone other than a spouse, parent, or child.

A total of 56 percent of those who reported financial mistreatment said that someone other than a member of their immediate family was responsible.

Of family members, children were mentioned most often and spouses rarely. Ex-spouses, in-laws, and siblings were all identified by some respondents as those responsible for mistreatment.

The report was published in the latest issue of The Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.

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