Academic journal article Family Relations

Elder Abuse and Neglect in Israel: A Comparison between the General Elderly Population and Elderly New Immigrants

Academic journal article Family Relations

Elder Abuse and Neglect in Israel: A Comparison between the General Elderly Population and Elderly New Immigrants

Article excerpt


The present study investigated differences between the general elderly population and elderly new immigrants from former Soviet Union countries in regard to the incidence of elder abuse and neglect, victims' characteristics, and perpetrators' characteristics. In addition, the study sought to examine predictors of various types of abuse and neglect. Data collection was conducted over a 1-year period, during which 120 new cases of abuse and neglect were identified. Forty-eight of these cases were elderly new immigrants from former Soviet Union countries. Both groups significantly differed in terms of victims' and perpetrators' characteristics. Being a new immigrant was found to be a significant predictor of physical abuse and neglect. Implications for intervention and policy are discussed.

Key Words: elder abuse, immigrants, neglect, perpetrators, victims.

Elder abuse and neglect has been recognized as a social problem affecting significant numbers of elderly persons in many Western countries. Studies designed to estimate the prevalence or incidence of abuse and mistreatment of older adults living at home have varied considerably because of differing methodologies and data sources. Although research has been insufficient to determine the scope of elder abuse and neglect (Barnett, Miller, & Perrin, 1997), a review of earlier studies shows that in community-based surveys, between 3 and 10% of individuals over the age of 65 have stated experiencing various types of elder abuse, neglect, or both (Comijs, Pot, Smit, Bouter, & Jonker, 1998; Cupitt, 1997; Hogstel & Curry, 1999), with only one in five being reported (National Center on Elder Abuse, 1998). Additionally, prevalence rates seemed to differ by forms of abuse and neglect, although findings across studies are not consistent. For example, in several studies (Foelker, Holland, Marsh, & Simmons, 1990; Shiferaw, Mittelmark, Wofford, Anderson, & Wallas, 1994; Soeda & Araki, 1999), the most prevalent forms of abuse and neglect involved self-neglect, followed by mental abuse, caregiver neglect, and exploitation, whereas in another study, mental, financial, and physical abuse were the most prevalent, and neglect was the least prevalent (Comijs, Smit, Pot, Bouter, &Jonker, 1998).

In an era of globalization and mass migration, the issue of elder abuse and neglect takes on heightened importance. Immigrants tend to be especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect because of various difficulties they encounter in adaptation to a new and unfamiliar environment, including solitude, communication difficulties, and inaccessibility to services (Persidsky & Kelly, 1992a). Despite the likely salience of abuse and neglect issues for new immigrants, little attention has been given to the study of elder abuse and neglect among elderly immigrants, and there is a dearth of research aimed at examining the extent to which elderly immigrants suffer from abuse and neglect in their new countries.

The purpose of this study was threefold: First, the study explored the scope and nature of elder abuse and neglect among the general elderly population in comparison with elderly new immigrants in Beer Sheva, the metropolitan city of the Southern region of the State of Israel. Second, the study investigated differences between elderly new immigrants and the general elderly population in terms of their sociodemographic characteristics. Third, the study sought to develop a set of theoretically and empirically derived predictors of elder abuse and neglect.

Elder Abuse and Neglect in Israel

Due to a national lack of systematic data collection, reliable data regarding the magnitude of reports on elder abuse and neglect in Israel are unavailable. To date, elder abuse and neglect has barely been investigated in Israel; however, one earlier study (Lehman, 1989), conducted among elderly Jews, found that 8% of the elderly investigated had experienced fraud. …

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