CDC Study: Violence Against Older Adults Is Rising And An 'Underreported Public Health Problem'

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Posted: Apr 07, 2019 12:39 PM
CDC Study: Violence Against Older Adults Is Rising And An 'Underreported Public Health Problem'

A recent study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from 2002-2016, violence targeting adults older than age 60 rose by more than 50%. The authors of this report say this could provoke a new public health problem should the trend continue, with older men being the primary targets of both non-fatal assaults as well as homicides. 

The study looked at National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program and National Vital Statistics System data from the early years of President Bush's administration to the end of President Obama's. It found that "the estimated nonfatal assault rate increased 75.4% among men (2002–2016) and 35.4% among women (2007–2016). " 

As noted by the researchers, "In 2017, older adults accounted for 22% of the U.S. population, surpassing children and adolescents aged 0–14 years (19%)."  This number will continue to rise, meaning more senior citizens may be vulnerable to attacks. These attacks often stem from somebody they know, such as a caretaker.  In fact, the findings indicate that an "estimated 58% of perpetrators had a relationship" with their targets. 

The study also notes that "Nonfatal assault rates among older adults did not change from 2002 to 2008 but increased 53.1% from 2008 to 2016 in the overall sample." During 2002-2016, "on average, the highest rates of nonfatal assaults (147.4) and homicides (3.58) were perpetrated against men aged 60–69 years."

The authors of the study say that "these cases potentially meet CDC’s definition of elder abuse, suggesting a need for prevention and support services for older adults faced with family- or acquaintance-perpetrated assault." It also notes that these findings of nonfatal assaults are likely largely underestimated because the study depended upon hospital emergency departments, meaning those who were attacked but declined seeking medical treatment were excluded from the data.