Older persons' definitions and explanations of elder abuse in the Netherlands

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Yuliya Mysyuk, Rudi G J Westendorp, Jolanda Lindenberg

In this article we explore older persons' definitions of and explanations for elder abuse in the Netherlands by means of interviews with older persons. A qualitative study was conducted based on semi-structured interviews with 35 older persons who had no experience with abuse. Our findings show that older persons participating in our study define elder abuse foremost as physical violence that is performed intentionally. The study participants explain elder abuse as a result of the dependency and vulnerability of older persons, of changing norms and values, and of changes in the position of older persons in society, which result in disrespect toward older persons and a lack of social control and responsibility. The older persons' explanations for the occurrence of abuse mainly focus on societal changes; older persons seem to regard elder abuse primarily as a societal problem. This understanding of, and explanation for elder abuse may influence their detection and reporting behavior, as they may tend to acknowledge only severe cases of intentional physical violence that leave clear and therefore physically detectable evidence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Elder Abuse & Neglect
Volume28
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)95-113
Number of pages19
ISSN0894-6566
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2016

ID: 154182684