Chinese Community Study Sheds Light on US Elder Abuse

A new study from the Chinese community in Chicago finds that nearly one in 10 Chinese older adults become new victims of elder abuse every two years. And victims of elder abuse are two to three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts compared to non-victims.

“What we’re finding is that elder abuse is an extremely complex problem, with severe consequences regarding psychological well-being,” said study leader XinQi Dong, M.D., M.P.H., of Rush University Medical Center. “Patterns of victimization may be influenced by the older adults’ health, intergenerational relationships, and other social determinants like culture.”

The study is the first to examine elder abuse — including psychological, physical, sexual, financial exploitation, caregiver neglect — and self-neglect in association with a number of factors, such as two-year incidence, adult children perpetrators and previous child abuse, physical functioning and thoughts of suicide.

The researchers used data from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE) and PIETY, two population-based longitudinal studies surveying more than 3,000 Chinese older adults and their adult children in the Chicago area, to investigate elder abuse among the U.S. Chinese population.

Among the findings:

  • nearly 1 in 10 Chinese older adults become new victims of elder abuse every two years;
  • risk factors for elder abuse vary depending on the type of abuse;
  • adult children who were abused as minors are nearly twice as likely to abuse their older parents compared to those who were not abused;
  • victims of elder abuse and self-neglect are 2 to 3 times more likely to have suicidal ideation than non-victims;
  • lower levels of physical function may be a protective factor against victimization.

“Examining elder abuse in the U.S. Chinese community sheds light on the potential cultural nuances of elder abuse,” Dong added. “Perpetrators of elder abuse tend to be family members, but adherence to collectivism or familism and lack of institutional support may deter Chinese-Americans from asking for help.

“While we want prevention and intervention efforts to be implemented as soon as possible, researchers need to make sure they have enough information to create effective, culturally appropriate programs to truly improve the lives of older adults.”

The study appears in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

Source: The Gerontological Society of America