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Risk factors for older people

Risk factors for older people

Risk factors for older people

Depending on circumstances, some older people may be at more risk of elder abuse than others.

Situations which may lead to an increased risk of abuse include:

Family dynamics

  • A history of violence, tension and conflict in the family
  • Continued spouse abuse — family violence research has shown  that violence increases in frequency and severity over time


  • Dependency may involve either the older person or the alleged abuser, or both at the same time
  • Research reflects that many older person victims are not dependent on the abuser for care. In fact, the abuser often depends on the victim
  • Abusive adult children who are dependent on their parents’ resources, abusive spouses and partners who regard women as being responsible for taking care of their needs (sexual, financial, emotional or even practical) all fall into this category

Stress in the care giving relationship

  • Stress can be a serious risk factor. The increasing pressure associated with such care can lead to great frustration
  • This is not to suggest that it constitutes a reasonable excuse for such behaviour

Mental health, alcohol and substance abuse

  • Abusers who have mental health issues or are drug dependant may have a higher risk of becoming abusive. This situation is further complicated should the person have care giving responsibilities


  • If the older person or the carers are isolated from support services or social networks there may be an increased incidence of abuse