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Elder Abuse - The Hidden Problem - A Briefing by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging, June 23, 1979, Boston, Massachusetts

NCJ Number
Date Published
118 pages
This committee report contains a briefing by the Select Committee on Aging, U.S. House of Representatives, 96th Congress, on the subject of elder abuse.
Testimonies reveal that elder abuse is extensive, that the recognition and treatment of abuse involves issues that are undefined at present, and that abuse of elders is a matter of great concern to the providers of medical, legal, and social services. Actual cases of elder abuse include the abusive treatment of an elderly woman by an alcoholic daughter-in-law; an 86-year-old woman found restrained by a chain in a shack; a senile 75-year old woman, abused by her husband and left alone without adequate food or supervision; and a 75-year-old widow living with a violent son who was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Situations which produce elder abuse have been identified and include: overburdened families where emotional, physical, and financial resources are depleted by efforts to care for elderly persons; families where past, unresolved conflicts are reactivated during the stress of caring for an elderly member; families which have long histories of poor adjustment in the community; and communities which do not provide adequate support and help. Remedies for the problem include drawing the attention of policymakers to the problem of elder abuse and providing accessible community agents (much elder abuse has been found to be the product of social isolation). Ideally, all levels of government must be committed to treating the problem. An analysis of a Massachusetts survey of medical personnel and social professionals and paraprofessionals found that almost every profession surveyed has had some experience with elder abuse, and that abuse tended to happen repeatedly to the same person (in 70 percent of the cases, abuse occurred more than twice). Demographic trends toward an increasingly larger elder population, added to findings on the recurrent nature of abuse, make it likely that the problem will increase in the future. Research and special projects are needed to test methods for locating abused elderly persons and to find methods for actually handling the cases. Many remedies for elder abuse must originate in State and local action. For some of the appended documents, see NJC 70829-31.