Triggers of Elder Abuse

An Orlando, Florida physician began working with other officials in law enforcement, a prosecutor’s office, and social workers in an effort to understand elder abuse. This came after seeing many elder patients in his job as an emergency room physician come in with injuries consistent with abuse. The patients, and their caregivers, often said the injury was “from a fall.”

The physician, Tony Rosen, M.D., worked with other professionals to analyze 87 cases of physical elder abuse in Kings County, Brooklyn, New York. Included in these case files were the criminal complaints filed by the district attorneys. They also looked at the initial evidence reports and the statements of the victims and police reports, when available.

With their research, Rosen and his team of researchers were able to compile a list of “acute triggers,” that often initiate physical elder abuse. They presented their findings at the Gerontological Society of America meeting.

In the great majority of the cases, the abuser was the victim’s son, totaling 41% of the cases. The second highest percentage of abusers, at 18%, were the spouses of the victims. As with many domestic abuse cases, the overwhelming percentage of victims, 72%, were female.

The study also found that the triggers for elder abuse closely resembled those of domestic abuse. However, the study did not look into whether the abuser provided any level of care for the victim. Common triggers included the victim attempting to leave the situation; the victim threatening to involve authorities; and other domestic conflicts.

The study also indicated that 18% of the abusers were “acutely intoxicated” with alcohol or other drugs at the time the abuse occurred.

If you believe that someone you care for has been the victim of elder abuse, contact the law offices of Schenk Smith. Our attorneys specialize in cases of elder abuse and neglect. Contact us today.