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How common is elder abuse by family members?

First of all, we do not definitively know how often elder abuse occurs because as with abuse in all age groups, it is underreported. As well, there are differences in definition. What one person would report as abuse, another would see as something else and report it as such. For example if an elder appeared to be noticeably losing weight, one person might say that s/he was abused because there were few groceries in the house. Another person might say it was simply due to aging and loss of taste acuity or appetite. 

However, when elder abuse is reported as such, it is by far more often a family member than a stranger that is the perpetrator. That makes sense statistically because it is more likely family in the role of care giver or support person than anyone else unless the elder is in a home. That family member can abuse the elder by actively doing something inappropriate (stealing, hitting, etc.) or by not doing the things they should do to care for the elder such as not buying groceries, giving medications, etc. 

Anthony Cirillo
Geriatric Medicine
According to The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, at least half a million older persons or elderly in domestic settings were newly abused, neglected, and/or exploited, or experienced self-neglect. The study also found that for every reported incident of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect, approximately five went unreported. In almost 90 percent of the elder abuse and neglect incidents with a known perpetrator, the perpetrator was a family member, and two-thirds of the perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
Who Moved My Dentures? 13 False (Teeth) Truths About Long-Term Care and Aging in America

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Who Moved My Dentures? 13 False (Teeth) Truths About Long-Term Care and Aging in America

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.