Risk and Protective Factors
A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of becoming a perpetrator of elder abuse. They are contributing factors and may or may not be direct causes. Understanding these factors can help identify various opportunities for prevention.
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Risk Factors for Perpetration
Individual Risk Factors
- Current diagnosis of mental illness
- Current or past abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Current physical health problem
- Past experience of disruptive behavior
- Past experience of traumatic events
- High levels of stress
- Poor or inadequate preparation or training for caregiving responsibilities
- Inadequate coping skills
- Exposure to or witnessing abuse as a child
- Social isolation
Relationship Risk Factors
- High financial and emotional dependence upon a vulnerable elder
- Past family conflict
- Inability to establish or maintain positive prosocial relationships
- Lack of social support
Societal Risk Factors
There are specific characteristics of institutional settings such as nursing homes and residential facilities, that can increase the risk for perpetration including:
- Staffing problems and lack of qualified staff
- Staff burnout and stressful working conditions
Protective Factors for Elder Abuse
Protective factors reduce risk for perpetrating or experiencing abuse and neglect. Protective factors have not been studied as extensively as risk factors. However, identifying and understanding protective factors are equally as important as researching risk factors.
Protective Factors for Victimization
Individual Protective Factors
- Emotional intelligence
Relationship Protective Factors
- Having social support
Community Protective Factors
- Sense of community, meaning, residents feel connected to each other and are involved in the community
See Elder Abuse Resources for more resources about elder abuse prevention.
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