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J Clin Forensic Med. 1995 Mar;2(1):1-8.

Elder abuse in the United States.

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Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, Department of Emergency Medicine, CB#7105, Old Clinic Building, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 27599-7105, USA.


Elder abuse in the US became a public issue in 1978, due to investigation by the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Family Violence. Defining abuse has proved difficult, but five primary categories have been developed: physical, psychological, financial/material abuse, violation of personal rights, and neglect. Abuse of some type occurs in 4-10% of Americans over 65 years of age. There are presently laws in all 50 states dealing with elder mistreatment. Mandatory reporting has been enacted in most states; however, most laws provide no funds for meaningful intervention. Recommendations for preventing, diagnosing, and reporting elder mistreatment are reviewed. Intervention requires a multidisciplinary effort by professionals from the medical, social service, mental health and legal professions.

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