Alcohol-related elder abuse: An overlooked problem in practice and research
Lead and Corresponding Author and Address
Dr Mary Pat Sullivan
School of Health Sciences and Social Care
Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH
Prof Mary Gilhooly, Prof Christina Victor, Prof Ken Gilhooly
Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex
Dr Sarah Wadd
University of Bedfordshire, Luton, Bedfordshire
Mr Nick Ellender
London Borough of Hillingdon, Uxbridge, Middlesex
This study was funded Alcohol Research UK.
Background: Alcohol abuse by an older person or a carer is consistently identified as a risk factor for elder abuse and neglect. Current research on elder abuse, however, tells us remarkably very little about the nature of this problem, strategies for effective health and social care interventions, or key policy implications. The absence of theoretical development in the field of elder abuse also limits our understanding of different forms of abuse, including those where alcohol is present.
Aims: This paper presents substantive findings from a mixed method feasibility study investigating the role of alcohol in elder abuse.
Design: We reviewed new referrals to one English Local Authority Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Team over a 2-year period (n = 1100), and conducted in-depth interviews with safeguarding and specialty alcohol treatment practitioners (n = 12) in various locations.
Findings: 1. Multivariate analysis from the case reviews and thematic analysis of the interviews revealed a significant relationship between an older victim’s alcohol abuse and financial and physical abuse, and additional sources of vulnerability for abuse including issues in the family environment. 2. Our findings capture complex sources of vulnerability when alcohol or drug abuse by a perpetrator is present. 3. Inadequate training for practitioners to identify and work with substance problems and elder abuse was also identified.
Conclusions: The paper concludes with preliminary suggestions for multi-agency interventions, educational initiatives and implications for additional research to further scope the nature of the problem in the UK.