Elder abuse

Key issues and emerging evidence
CFCA Paper No. 51 – June 2019

Appendix: Risk factors by abuse type

The table below summarises various risk factors associated with particular abuse types identified across a range of studies, but not necessarily all of them. It is important to highlight that the factors identified do not necessarily translate to all populations or contexts and are provided for summary purposes only. It should also be noted that it does not evaluate the strength of the evidence for each risk factor identified.

Table A1: Risk factors associated with abuse types
Abuse type Risk factors for older people Risk factors for perpetrators Relationship or contextual factors
Physical abuse Age (<70 years) 

Gender (female)

Low income

Poor health

Low social support

Functional impairment/dependence

Separated/divorced status

Behavioural problems

Dependency on older adult 

History of family violence

Employment status

Poor mental health/psychological problems

Social isolation

Partner/spousal relationship

Adult-child relationship

Caregiver/care recipient cohabitation 

Quality of relationships
(family conflict)

Lack of formal social supports

Psychological or emotional abuse Lower age (<70 years) 

Previous trauma experience

Low social support

Functional impairment/dependence

Separated/divorced status

History of family violence 

Poor mental health/psychological problems

Social isolation

Partner/spousal relationship

Substance misuse

Lack of formal social supports
Sexual abuse Previous trauma experience 

Gender (female)

Low social support

History of family violence 

Poor mental health

Social isolation

Partner/spousal relationship

Acquaintances

(Not available/reported)
Financial abuse Cognitive impairment 

Functional impairment/dependence

Poor health

Ethnic minority status

Previous trauma experience

Fear of loss of dependence

Lack of protective scepticism of others

History of family violence 

Family members

Attitudes of entitlement

Substance misuse

Intergenerational conflict
Neglect Low income 

Low social support

Need for assistance

Ethnic minority status

Poor health

No use of social services

Social isolation

Previous trauma/family violence experience 

Carer stress/burden

Reluctance in caregiving role

Resentment towards older person

Lack of caregiving skills

Adult children

Quality of relationships 

Family conflict

Sources: Acierno et al. (2010); Bagshaw et al. (2013); Burnes et al. (2015); Fang and Yan (2018); Jackson (2016a); Jackson and Hafemeister (2016); Kaspiew et al. (2016); Miskovski (2014); Moore and Browne (2017); Pillemer et al. (2016); Schiamberg and Gans (1999)