Helping Elderly Victims: The Reality of Elder Abuse. Wolf RS, Pillemer KA, New York, Columbia University Press, 1989, 171 pages, hardbound.
This quick and easy-to-read book is divided into four parts. Part 1 describes the factors contributing to society's increased concern with the problem of elder abuse, including changing demographics, increasing political power of senior citizens, the women's movement, and the states' increased involvement in family and public policy. It also includes definitions and characteristics of physical, psychological, and materials abuse, and active and passive neglect. The etiological theories of intraindividual dynamics (psychopathology of abuser), intergenerational transmission of violence, dependence (abuser is dependent on the victim), external stress, and social isolation are also discussed.
Part 2 provides data collected on 328 victims and perpetrators, and includes various types and degrees of severity of abuse during the 2-year model studies projects. Three agencies were used in the data collection that provide services to abused and neglected elderly and their families.
Part 3 evaluates each program component. The project in Worcester, Massachusetts, received most of its referrals from private agencies and had the internal control to order a variety of social services for its clients. The Syracuse, New York, project received most of its referrals from public sources and coordinated the services provided by others. This agency had a group of specially trained aides to follow cases in the home. The Rhode Island project worked under the state's mandatory reporting law. It could not authorize services to the clients and had to rely on other agencies to provide direct service.
I found the word choice of "perpetrator" to describe those who commit abuse against the elderly interesting. If the word "perpetrator" has the connotation that a crime has been committed, then why is the act of violence (abuse) cloaked in "non-criminal" terms (ie, physical abuse versus assault, sexual assault versus rape, materials abuse versus theft or robbery)?
Helping Elderly Victims is a concise, research-based book that provides much-needed rationale for why staff development, specialized identification, and intervention projects need to be developed and funded to address the needs of elderly victims of abuse.