Elder Abuse: International and Crass-Cultural Perspectives Jordan I. Kosberg and Juanita L. Garcia; Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.; 1 995; 208 pages; $34.95; hardcover
The background of elder abuse is briefly reviewed as an introduction to the next ten chapters, each one of which discusses basic statistics about the older population, cultural characteristics, definitions and prevalence of abuse, and programs of prevention in ten different countries throughout the world. The countries are quite varied and include Australia, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, India, Ireland, Norway, Poland, and South Africa.
Elder abuse was first studied and discussed openly in Great Britain ("granny bashing") and the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Elder abuse is a worldwide phenomenon although it has been much slower to be recognized and studied in other countries. The various types of elder abuse are difficult to define and differ from country to country.
Many of the factors contributing to elder abuse in the United States are also true in other countries. Some of these factors are an increasing aging population (especially the oldest old who are most vulnerable); increasing national economic problems resulting in fewer governmental resources for assistance; mobility of younger family members to urban areas leaving older family members alone in rural areas with less support; change in cultural factors (e.g., decreased reverence for older persons in countries known for this value); and more women (traditional caregivers) working outside the home.
Elder abuse is primarily a woman's issue because women live longer than men in most countries. The most common persons abused are older frail women who are poor, have a rninimal education, live alone, and are dependent on others. The trend in all countries discussed is for older persons to live in the community and avoid institutionalization as long as possible. However, that places more responsibility on family members with possibility of abuse because of increased economic problems, stress, and fatigue. The primary focus of the book is on abuse in the family and community rather than on institutional settings.
Plans to study the problem more extensively (some countries have no statistics on prevalence) and implement programs and services to prevent abuse are discussed. None of the countries have formal Adult Protective Services programs. Because of the increasing aging population and the general lack of education about aging and old age, elder abuse will increase as a worldwide social problem.
Although the 10 chapters were written by different authors knowledgeable about the various countries, the book was well written and easy to read. Learning about elder abuse in different cultural settings was informative and interesting. The final chapter by the editors summarizes the book in a dear and concise manner. This book will be helpful to all individuals involved in gerontology in any way.