Older adults who have been hospitalized for injuries from an assault are more likely to experience subsequent physical abuse if they are female, widowed, diagnosed with dementia, or return home to live with the perpetrator.
This is according to a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Approximately 8 of every 1,000 adults over 60 in the U.S. are victims of elder mistreatment, according to Adult Protective Services.
Thirteen percent of those cases involve physical or sexual abuse, but of those, fewer than 10 percent are reported to Adult Protective Services, studies have shown. Victims face increased risk of being abused again, but the risk factors for revictimization have been unclear.
Based on hospital records, 57 percent of victims had their abuse reported to Adult Protective Services or police. However, when the researchers compared hospital records to the Adult Protective Services files, they found that only 26.6 percent had investigations on record, indicating that hospital reporting may have been overstated.
"Better education for health care workers on the risk factors associated with revictimization and improved adoption of existing screening tools are needed," Friedman said. "The goal should be to connect victims of abuse with community services, police action, and alternative residential options. But this can only be done if we do a better job screening for mistreatment."