Elder Abuse

Abstract: Elder abuse is identified by various terms. The term elder abuse includes all forms of abuse and neglect: intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (regardless of intent) to a vulnerable older individual by a caregiver or other person who is trusted by the older individual or failure by a caregiver to satisfy the older individual's basic needs or protect the older individual from harm. Elder abuse affects 1-10% of older individuals. As the population ages, the number of abuse victims is likely to increase. Obstetrician-gynecologists are in a position to establish long-term relationships with their older patients. They can monitor a patient's function over time, identify risk factors for abuse, and identify the signs and symptoms of abuse when it occurs. Responses to screening questions about mistreatment are more likely to uncover abuse. Physicians should be aware of their local and state laws that govern the reporting of abuse and suspected abuse. In the presence of suspected abuse, the physician should determine whether the patient is in immediate danger. It may be necessary to remove her from her present environment to ensure her safety. In certain cases, short-term hospitalization or nursing home placement is the only alternative, and referral to another physician versed in geriatrics or elder mistreatment is appropriate.


Russell R. Snyder, MD

Associate Editor
Gretchen M. Lentz, MD

Past Editor
Raul Artal, MD

ISSN 1536-3619
Published 6 times per year