NEW DIRECTIONS FOR DEVELOPING THEORIES OF
ELDER ABUSE OCCURRING IN DOMESTIC SETTINGS
BY SHELLY L. JACKSON, PH.D., AND THOMAS L. HAFEMEISTER, J.D., PH.D.
As of 2010, 13 percent of the population was age 65 and older, with this group expected to comprise 19.3 percent of the population by 2030.1 Elder abuse among this population is both a pervasive problem and a growing concern.2 Given that the vast majority (96.9 percent) of older Americans are residing in domestic settings,3 it is not surprising that the majority (89.3 percent) of elder abuse reported to Adult Protective Services (APS) occurs in domestic settings.4 And yet, although greater recognition of the occurrence of elder abuse is beginning to emerge, the field has generated few theory-based explanations of what causes elder abuse and how best to respond to it. This paper reports the findings of two studies funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in an effort to begin to fill this void. The theoretical directions suggested in this paper are intended to spur the critique of existing theories and facilitate the development of new theories that will enhance our understanding of elder abuse. This paper addresses only a subset of the various types of elder abuse; future work should attend to other forms of elder maltreatment (e.g., psychological, sexual) not addressed here.