How urban social workers define and respond to elder abuse
Levine, Riva A.
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This is an exploratory study of how social workers perceive elder abuse in an urban setting. It is the objective of this study to contribute towards the identification of the degree of consensus on the definition of elder abuse, the "theories of cause" (factor(s) associated with elder abuse) and the intervention strategies for elder abuse.;The study population consisted of one hundred-nineteen social workers representing the continuum of services to elder abuse victims. The social workers respond to a self-administered questionnaire that focuses on the social work perception of elder abuse.;Contrary to research literature that discusses the lack of consensus on the definition of elder abuse, the study participants strongly agree on the definition of elder abuse. The categories of elder abuse identified are physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial and material abuse, passive neglect, and active neglect. The most frequent form of abuse identified is financial abuse. Substance abuse, family conflict and mental impairment are viewed as the critical factors associated with elder abuse. The social workers have some agreement on the effectiveness of methods of interventions and services for assisting elder abuse victims. Patterns of intervention emerge through the social workers' responses to hypothetical elder abuse case situations. Ethical dilemmas that the social workers confront in intervening in elder abuse case situations are explored. The social workers recommend that increasing supportive services for elder abuse victims, case management services, community and professional education would alleviate the plight of elder abuse victims.