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Intimate Partner Violence and Elder Abuse: The Basics

Course Number: 674

Risk Factors of Victims and Perpetrators

Knowing the basic risk factors about who is likely to be maltreated can help dental professionals better recognize possible signs of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Social isolation, living arrangement (living with a caregiver), and cognitive issues such as dementia, are all understood to be risk factors.29

Understanding who perpetrates elder abuse is also helpful to better understand the issue and possibly identify warning signs in patients. Such risk factors include diagnosis of mental illness or chemical dependency, poor or inadequate preparation or training for caregiving responsibilities, inadequate coping skills, especially in high levels of stress, exposure to abuse as a child, high financial and emotional dependence upon a vulnerable elder, current health problems, past family conflict, and lack of social support.28 Many times, older adults depend on the perpetrator for caregiving or other needs, complicating common societal interventions such as those offered through the criminal justice system. If the older adult is in a long term care facility such as a nursing home, staffing problems and staff burnout contributes to stressful working conditions and high turnover rates. These high turnover rates can lead to hiring staff without specific qualifications or coping strategies.25