Association between Depressive Symptoms, Multiple Dimensions of Depression, and Elder Abuse

Susan K. Roepke-Buehler, Melissa Simon, Xinqi Dong

Publication Date: 10/01/2015

Objective: Depression is conceptualized as both a risk factor for and a consequence of elder abuse; however, current research is equivocal. This study examined associations between elder abuse and dimensions of depressive symptoms in older adults. Method: Participants were 10,419 older adults enrolled in theChicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), a population-based study of older adults. Regression was used to determine the relationships between depressive symptoms, depression dimensions, and abuse variables. Results: Depressive symptoms were consistently associated with elder abuse. Participants in the highest tertile of depressive symptoms were twice as likely to have confirmed abuse with a perpetrator (odds ratio = 2.07, 95% confidence interval = [1.21, 3.52], p =.008). Elder abuse subtypes and depression dimensions were differentially associated. Discussion: These findings highlight the importance of routine depression screening in older adults as a component of abuse prevention and intervention. They also provide profiles of depressive symptoms that may more accurately characterize risk for specific types of abuse.