The Influence of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity on Elder Mistreatment

Author: David V. Flores, PhD, LMSW, MPH, CPH

Overview

The makeup of the older population will be more racially and ethnically diverse than any other older generation in U.S history (Institute of Medicine, 2012; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). These demographic changes will also result in a shift in cultural norms, perceptions, and traditions.

The National Center on Aging Abuse (2013) defines elder mistreatment (EM) as

"any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult” and “encompasses physical, psychological, sexual exploitation, neglect and self-neglect" (Dyer et al., 2008; Lachs, Williams, O’Brien, Hurst, & Horwitz, 1997; World Health Organization, 2006).

EM is an independent risk factor for early mortality. Victims have three times the odds of early mortality compared to demographically matched non-victims. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified common risk factors and co-morbidities for victims including:

Culture frames perceptions of elder mistreatment regarding causes of, responses to, enabling of, and personal responsibility towards elder mistreatment (Bowes, 2012; Cardona, Meyer, Schiamberg, & Post, 2007; Flores et al., 2013; Prado, Szapocznik, Maldonado-Molina, Schwartz, & Pantin, 2008; Rapoza, 2006).

Studies on the influences of culture, race, and ethnicity on elder mistreatment are limited. Preliminary research indicates that much of what we know about EM comes from international sources and there remains a significant lack of research on the cultural, racial and ethnic influences on elder mistreatment in the U.S.

 

Key Points

 

References

Bowes, Alison. (2012). Cultural diversity and the mistreatment of older people in Black and minority ethnic communities: Some implications for service provision. Journal of elder abuse & neglect, 24, 251-274.

Cardona, Jose Ruben Parra, Meyer, Emily, Schiamberg, Lawrence, & Post, Lori. (2007). Elder Abuse and Neglect in Latino Families: An Ecological and Culturally Relevant Theoretical Framework for Clinical Practice. Family Process, 46(4), 451-470. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2007.00225.x

Dyer, C. B., Franzini, L., Watson, M., Sanchez, L., Prati, L., Mitchell, S., . . . Pickens, S. (2008). Future research: a prospective longitudinal study of elder self-neglect. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 56 Suppl 2, S261-265. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01978.x

Flores, D.V., Torres, L.R., Torres-Vigil, I., Bordnick, P.S. , Ren, Y., Torres, M.I.M., . . . Lopez, T. . (2013). From "kickeando las malias" (kicking the withdrawals) to "staying clean": The impact of cultural values on cessation of injection drug use in aging Mexican-American men. Substance Use & Misuse, 48.

Institute of Medicine. (2012). The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands? In J. Eden, K. Maslow, M. Le & D. Blazer (Eds.), Committee on the Mental Health Workforce for Geriatric Populations Board on Health Care Services, . Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, The National Academies Press.

Institute of Medicine. (2012). The mental health and substance use workforce for older adults In whose hands? Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.

Lachs, M. S., Williams, C., O'Brien, S., Hurst, L., & Horwitz, R. (1997). Risk factors for reported elder abuse and neglect: A nine-year observational cohort study. The Gerontologist, 37, 469-474.

National Center on Aging Abuse. (2013). Major types of elder abuse. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ncearoot/Main_Site/FAQ/Basics/Types_Of_Abuse.aspx

Prado, Guillermo, Szapocznik, Jose, Maldonado-Molina, Mildred M., Schwartz, Seth J., & Pantin, Hilda. (2008). Drug use/abuse prevelance, etiology, prevention, and treatment in Hispanic adolescents: A cultural perspective. Journal of Drug Issues, 38(1), 5-36.

Rapoza, K.A. (2006). Implicit theories of elder abuse in a sample of European-American descent. Journal of elder abuse & neglect, 18(2/3), 17-32.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). The next four decades: The older population in the United States: 2010 to 2050, current population reports. Washington DC.

World Health Organization. (2006). WHO facts on: Elder abuse and alcohol Alcohol and Violence. Geneva, Switzerland.