Italian Journal of Criminology

The official journal of the Italian Society of Criminology

by Liliana Lorettu, Alessandra Nivoli, Valentina Virdis, L. Fabrizia Nivoli, Sara Falconi, Gian Carlo Nivoli

Elder abuse has received increasing attention over the past decade as a pervasive and growing problem with serious consequences for the ealth and wellbeing of old people. Abuse against elderly persons is extremely frequent, althought very often is not declared and it’s difficult to get information to define the real dimension of the phenomenon. Factors contributing to misdiagnosis and underreporting included denial by both the victim and the perpetrator, clinicians’ reluctance to report victims, disbelief by medical providers and clinicians’ lack of awarness of warning signs. Elder abuse could be defined as a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action wich causes harm or distress to an older person. There are five main types of abuse following described: physical, psychological or emotional, sexual, neglect, self-neglect, financial or material, medical, abandonment and violation of rights. Often abuse takes place in unexpected scenarios and is perpetrated by those who might be expected to care and have particularly attention and emphaty to elderly persons: the victim, usually socially isolated, lives in close proximity to or with the perpetrator, has got a personal relationship with the perpetrator and is often dependent on him. Understanding the typical victim, perpetrator and scenario is crucial to detecting and preventing elder abuse. Research shows that there are a number of risk factors, correlated to the victim, the perpetrator or the relationship between them, which include social isolation, a poor quality relationship between the abuser and the abused, a pattern of family violence, dependence feelings (physical, emotional or financial one), victim or caregiver psychopathology (Axis I major mental mental disorders, personality disorders and drug/alcohol related problems). This article reviews the terminology, epidemiology, clinical signs and risk factors associated with elder abuse in the community and in istitutional settings, in order to permit early identification of abuse or maltreatment and to provide strategies of adequate intervention for elder abuse.

Prof. Associato, Presidente Società Italiana di Psichiatria Forense, Clinica Psichiatrica, Università di Sassari
Liliana Lorettu
Ricercatore Clinica Psichiatrica, Università di Sassari
Alessandra Nivoli
Specializzanda Scuola di Specializzazione in Geriatria, Università di Sassari
Valentina Virdis
Specializzanda Clinica Psichiatrica, Università di Sassari
L. Fabrizia Nivoli
Specializzanda Scuola di Specializzazione in Geriatria, Università di Sassari
Sara Falconi
Ordinario Clinica Psichiatrica, Università di Sassari
Gian Carlo Nivoli
Contacts: Liliana Lorettu, Clinica Psichiatrica, Università degli Studi di Sassari, e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

From: Rassegna Italiana di Criminologia n. 2/2007



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