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The High Prevalence of Depression and Dementia in Elder Abuse or Neglect

The present study aims to;

  • describe the characteristics of patients experiencing abuse or neglect referred to an urban geriatric assessment and treatment center and
  • compare the prevalence of depression and dementia in these patients with that of patients referred to the geriatric program for other reasons. We hypothesized that, in addition to dementia, depression might be a significant risk factor for abuse or neglect.

The study population consisted of all patients with a diagnosis of abuse or neglect who underwent IGAIT assessment from January 1995 to June 1997. A random sample of patients 65 years of age and older without a diagnosis of abuse or neglect and evaluated during the same time period was drawn to provide approximately two comparison patients for each case of abuse or neglect. Patients were not matched on any variables except age (only patients aged 65 years and older included) so that differences in demographic and clinical characteristics could be detected.

This is the first primary data study that highlights a high prevalence of depression as well as dementia in mistreated older people. Geriatric clinicians should rule out elder neglect or abuse in their depressed or demented patients.


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