Neglect, abuse and violence against older women: Definitions and research frameworks

  • Patricia Brownell Fordham University, New York City, New York, USA
Keywords: ageing, elder abuse, neglect, older women, violence


The aging of the global population with women living longer than men, resulting in the feminization of aging, focuses attention on the intersection of gender and age. Women across the lifespan can be victims of violence but there has been little attention to date to the neglect, abuse and violence against older women. Because of this gap in knowledge and remedies, little is known about neglect, abuse and violence against older women, particularly its prevalence as well as evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies. Several definitions of neglect, abuse and violence are reviewed here, along with conceptual frameworks that operationalize these definitions differently, resulting in differences in findings on prevalence as well as fragmentation in the way that older women victims of abuse are viewed. Three definitions of older adult abuse are discussed, including those formulated by the Toronto Declaration, the National Research Council, and the United States Center for
Disease Control. Each focuses on a different aspect of abuse of older women: active ageing, old age dependency, and domestic violence in later life. A fourth conceptual framework, the human rights perspective, shows promise for addressing abuse of older women in a more holistic manner than the other definitions, but Is not fully developed as a way of understanding neglect, abuse and violence against older women. This is the first of a four-part series on older women and abuse.
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