-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors who suffer elder
abuse are more likely to be women, to have a neurological or mental
disorder and to abuse drugs or alcohol, new research indicates.
In the study, researchers examined medical record data from two
Chicago-area trauma units and compared 41 cases of elder abuse with
a random set of patients over age 60 (control group) who were
treated between 1999 and 2006.
The analysis revealed that 29 percent of abuse victims tested
positive for alcohol, compared to 13 percent of the control group.
"Past studies have shown that alcohol abuse by the perpetrator
plays a substantial role and is strongly associated with physical
abuse," lead study author Lee Friedman, assistant professor of
environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of
Illinois at Chicago, said in a university news release. "Our
findings indicate that alcohol abuse among the victims may be an
important contributing factor as well."
In addition, the abuse victims were also more likely to have
pre-existing medical conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's
disease, mental illness, alcohol abuse and heart disease, the
Compared to patients in the control group, abuse victims had
more severe injuries, higher in-hospital death rates, longer stays
in the hospital, and were more likely to be admitted to intensive
After treatment, 20 of the abuse victims returned to the setting
where the abuse occurred. In most cases, the perpetrator of the
abuse had been arrested, but 17 percent of the victims said they
wanted to return to that person and not to press charges. Family
members or intimate partners were the perpetrators in 85 percent of
the cases, according to the report published in the March issue of
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The researchers also found that most abuse cases weren't
identified until after the patient had been admitted or had spent
several days in hospital. This failure of medical staff to
recognize cases of abuse and to contact adult protective services
in the majority of cases shows that health professionals need to
improve their understanding of elder abuse, Friedman pointed
The U.S. Administration on Aging has more about
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