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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Elder Abuse and Alcohol are Linked

The elderly are probably the most vulnerable people after babies when it comes to abuse. It is often the case that the abuse that the elderly receive, usually female, is the result of a spouse or family member abusing drugs or alcohol. A number of abuse cases result in the victim themselves becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol in order to cope with or mask the trauma they are experiencing. The information is the result of research that was according to research published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society; the study found that elder abuse usually has a common theme amongst the victims: female, suffering from a neurological or mental disorder, and abuse of drugs or alcohol.

Lee Friedman, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lead author of the study stated that, "Past studies have shown that alcohol abuse by the perpetrator plays a substantial role and is strongly associated with physical abuse. Our findings indicate that alcohol abuse among the victims may be an important contributing factor as well." Twenty-nine percent of abuse victims in the study tested positive for alcohol, compared to 13 percent of controls.

Based off of their findings from studying 41 cases of elder abuse which were put up against a random set of other over-60 patients between 1999 and 2006, researchers found that elderly victims of physical abuse experienced more traumatic injuries than their non-abused counterparts. In most cases the victims of elder abuse dealt with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer's disease, mental illness and alcohol abuse. Sadly, it is often the case that elder abuse cases go unnoticed by authorities or health officials and if the signs are spotted the victims will often refuse to press charges against their abuser which is not surprising when you consider the fact that eighty-five percent of the perpetrators were family members or intimate partners.

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