Older People’s Conceptualization of Elder Abuse and Neglect

Brian J Taylor, Campbell Killick, Marita O'Brien, Emer Begley, Janet Carter Anand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To be effective, definitions of elder abuse should be informed by the perspectives of older people themselves.
Methods:This qualitative study used data from eight focus groups involving 58 people aged over 65 years in both urban and rural settings across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Following training, four older people assisted in facilitation and analysis as ‘peer-researchers’.
Findings:Increasing lack of respect within society was experienced as abusive. The vulnerability of older people to abuse was perceived as relating to the need for help and support, where standing up for themselves might have repercussions for the person’s health or safety. Emotional abusiveness was viewed as underpinning all forms of abuse, and as influencing its experienced severity. Respondents’ views as to whether an action was abusive required an understanding of intent; some actions that professionals might view as abusive were regarded as acceptable if they were in the older person’s best interests.
Implications:Preventing abuse requires a wide-ranging approach including re-building respect for older people within society. Procedures to prevent elder abuse need to take into account the emotional impact of family relationships and intent, not just a description of behaviours that have occurred.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-243
JournalJournal of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Issue number3
Early online date29 Apr 2014
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2014


  • Adult protection
  • adult safeguarding
  • ageism
  • cultural responsiveness
  • elder abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • peer-researchers
  • psychological abuse
  • qualitative research
  • social work
  • vulnerable adult
  • Ireland

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