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J Elder Abuse Negl. 2005;17(4):11-30.

Verbal mistreatment in older adults:a look at persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers in the state of Florida.

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The James & Jennifer Harrell Center, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.



This study examined verbal aggression in a sample of community dwelling older adults with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) using the Risk and Vulnerability model as a means for identifying factors associated with verbal mistreatment in caregiver/patient dyads.


Subjects were recruited in the State of Florida through their association with state-funded memory disorder clinics or with local chapters of the Alzheimer's Association. The sample for this analysis consisted of 254 caregivers who completed both a questionnaire and an in-home interview between the years 1998 and 2002. Verbal mistreatment was measured using the verbal aggression sub-scale of the Conflict Tactics Scale and logistic regression analysis was used to examine factors associated with increased risk.


Verbal aggression as a conflict resolution style was self reported by 60.1% of caregivers, and was reported as a technique used against them by 74.8% of family members with AD. Logistic regression analysis suggests that factors associated with increased risk for verbal aggression by caregivers included being female, providing care to verbally aggressive elders, caregiver's diminished cognitive status, high levels of psychiatric symptoms, depression, or experiencing a high degree of caregiver hassle. Additionally, a significant interaction effect was found between levels of depression in caregivers and dementia symptoms in elders, as well as between levels of psychiatric symptoms in caregivers, feelings of caregiver hassle, and depression in care recipients and risk for verbal mistreatment.


This study highlights the importance of both risks and vulnerabilities in the outcome of verbal mistreatment, and identifies that in many cases verbal mistreatment may be a reciprocal phenomenain dyads of caregivers and persons with AD.


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