13pct of Senior Americans Mistreated Physically, Verbally, Financially

by Tanya Thomas on Aug 22 2008 9:46 AM

A study from the University of Chicago has exposed the extent of mistreatment of Americans in their old age. The results reveal that nearly 13 pct of senior Americans are mistreated, either verbally, physically or financially.

During the study a team led by Edward Laumann, the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology at the University of Chicago found that 9 percent of adults reported verbal mistreatment, 3.5 percent reported financial mistreatment and 0.2 percent reported physical mistreatment.

Physical impairment apparently played a key role in mistreatment.

"The population of the country is aging, and people now live with chronic diseases longer. So it's important to understand, from a health perspective, how people are being treated as they age," said Laumann.

"Older people with any physical vulnerability are about 13 percent more likely than those without one to report verbal mistreatment but are not more likely to report financial mistreatment," said co-author Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower Professor in Sociology at the University.

The study showed that adults in their late 50s and 60s were more likely to report verbal or financial mistreatment than those who are older.

"Perhaps the respondents are including fairly routine arguments, perhaps about money, with their spouse, sibling or child in their reports or perhaps older adults are more reticent to report negative behavior," said Laumann.

Females were about twice as likely to report verbal mistreatment, but no higher level of financial mistreatment, than men.

Latinos were about half as likely as whites to report verbal mistreatment and 78 percent less likely to report financial mistreatment; and blacks were 77 percent more likely to report financial mistreatment than whites.

In addition, 26 percent identified their spouse or romantic partner as being responsible, 15 percent said their children mistreated them verbally, while the remainder said that a friend, neighbor, co-worker or boss was responsible.