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Elder abuse common around the world, especially in those with cognitive impairment

Elder abuse is common among older adults living in the community, and is especially prevalent among black and minority ethnic people and those with cognitive and physical impairments, a global review has revealed.

The review examined the evidence on elder abuse in five continents. The abuse covered by studies included psychological, physical and sexual abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

Routine screening for elder abuse should be included in clinical practice

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In North and South American epidemiological studies, the prevalence of elder abuse ranged from about 10% among cognitively intact older adults to 47% in those with dementia. In Europe, prevalence varied from 2% in Ireland to 61% in Croatia. In Asia, the highest prevalence was found in China (36%) and the lowest in India (14%). In Africa, prevalence ranged from 30% to 44%.

Review author Xin Qi Dong, professor of medicine, behavioural sciences and nursing at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, US, concludes that health professionals should consider integrating routine screening for elder abuse into clinical practice, especially among high-risk populations.

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