The Absence of Appropriate Care: An Examination of Older & Younger Adult’s Perceptions of Elder Abuse

LJJ Jessiman*, Shelley Canning, Bernadette Yeo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Elder abuse is defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person” (WHO, 2015). The abuse of the elderly continues to be a significant problem worldwide with estimates of 16% of older adults suffering abuse. Prevalence rates are most likely underestimations because so many cases go unreported. Research suggests that underreporting can stem from failure to perceive behaviours as abusive (Dakin & Pearlmutter, 2009).

In this study we examined perceptions of elder abuse using 13 scenarios of abuse (abuse type: neutral, physical, sexual, financial, emotional, & neglect; victim: with or without ageing pathology). We examined how older and young adults identify elder abuse. Both age groups were asked to rate scenarios of abuse for level of abusiveness. We found a significant main effect of abuse type (p < 0.001) with both older and younger adults most readily identifying sexual and physical abuse and least readily identifying neglect. We also found a significant interaction between age and abuse type with older adults rating the neglect, financial and emotional abuse scenarios as more abusive than young adults (p < 0.005). Our findings have important implications. With an ever-growing ageing population, it is important that we educate all age groups in terms of what elder abuse is and how to identify when there is an absence of appropriate care as well as when there is the presence of inappropriate care.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPrint publication - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventCanadian Association on Gerontology - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 18 Oct 201820 Oct 2018


ConferenceCanadian Association on Gerontology


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