Elder abuse: Research, practice, and health policy. the 2012 GSA Maxwell pollack award lecture
Publication Date: 01/01/2014
Elder abuse, also called elder mistreatment or elder maltreatment, includes psychological, physical, and sexual abuse, neglect (caregiver neglect and self-neglect), and financial exploitation. Evidence suggests that 1 out of 10 older adults experiences some form of elder abuse, and only a fraction of cases are actually reported to social services agencies. At the same time, elder abuse is independently associated with significant morbidity and premature mortality. Despite these findings, there is a great paucity in research, practice, and policy dealing with this pervasive issue. In this paper, I review the epidemiology of elder abuse as well as key practical issues in dealing with the cases of elder abuse. Through my experiences as a Congressional Policy Fellow/National Health and Aging Policy Fellow, I highlight key previsions on 2 major federal legislations dealing with the issues of elder abuse: Older Americans Act (OAA) and Elder Justice Act (EJA). Lastly, I highlight major research gaps and future policy relevant research directions to advance the field of elder abuse. Interdisciplinary and community-based efforts are needed to devise effective strategies to detect, treat, and prevent elder abuse in our increasingly diverse aging populations. Collective advocacy and policy advances are needed to create a national infrastructure to protect the vulnerable older adults.