Types of elder abuse: WHO estimates

  1. Psychological abuse: 11.6%
  2. Financial abuse: 6.8%
  3. Neglect: 4.2%
  4. Physical abuse: 2.6%
  5. Sexual abuse: 0.9%

Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. This type of violence constitutes a violation of human rights and includes physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect.

Scope of the problem

Elder abuse is an important public health problem. A 2017 study based on the best available evidence from 52 studies in 28 countries from diverse regions, including 12 low- and middle-income countries, estimated that, over the past year, 15.7% of people aged 60 years and older were subjected to some form of abuse (1). This is likely to be an underestimation, as only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse is reported, in part because older people are often afraid to report cases of abuse to family, friends, or to the authorities. Consequently, any prevalence rates are likely to be underestimated.

Although rigorous data are limited, the study provides pooled prevalence estimates of number of older people affected by different types of abuse:

  • psychological abuse: 11.6%
  • financial abuse: 6.8%
  • neglect: 4.2%
  • physical abuse: 2.6%
  • sexual abuse: 0.9%

Continue reading at the WHO website

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