Elder abuse a factor in lifespan, common but not always detected

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Elderly people who are abused by their caregivers are much more likely to die sooner than peers who are not mistreated, says an article published in the Oct. 2 issue of The Lancet.

Seniors who have been abused are 3.1 times more likely to die within three years compared with their peers who have not been abused, according to the article. Only 9% of abused elderly people were still alive after 13 years, compared with 41% of elderly who were not mistreated, according to findingsby researchers.

Drawing on various previous studies, experts estimate from 2% to 10% of the elderly are abused. The new report indicates that this percentage is likely to increase as the baby boomers reach retirement.

Healthcare professionals and administrators can play a vital part in
recognizing and investigating signs of abuse such as bruises and injured bones in their residents and patients, according to the report. The majority of elder abuse incidents do not occur in institutional settings, experts point out.