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Understanding Elder Abuse: New Directions for Developing Theories of Elder Abuse Occurring in Domestic Settings

NCJ Number
Shelly L. Jackson Ph.D.; Thomas L. Hafemeister, J.D., Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2013
40 pages
This article reports the findings of two studies funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that examine existing and new theories to enhance understanding of elder abuse.
This research describes findings from two NIJ studies of elder abuse in domestic settings on various types of elder abuse, including physical abuse, neglect, "pure" financial exploitation, and "hybrid" financial exploitation. Findings suggest that the response to elder maltreatment needs to change from a relatively fragmented approach unguided by theory to one that embraces a systematic approach drawn from a greater understanding of the underlying phenomenon. Further, these theories should take into account the characteristics of both the elderly victims and the abusive individuals, including their cognitive statuses, the nature of their relationships, the settings in which the abuse occurs, the type of abuse involved, and protective factors; in general, the theories should employ a more dynamic approach. Finally, the resulting constructs should be tested, including the tenets presented in this article to help build a foundation that will both deepen ones understanding of elder maltreatment and form a basis for crafting more effective interventions to increase the safety and well-being of elderly people. 4 figures and 115 references