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Black Seniors Abused

Written by NHAbuseGuide on June 1, 2015

Black Seniors Abused, Swindled More

Nursing home abuse is a serious issue facing the elderly, but a recent survey conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) shows that elderly African Americans may be twice as likely to fall victim to psychological abuse, and as high as five times more likely to be financially cheated.

The survey, which is one of the few that focus on elder abuse in relation to race, used information gathered directly from seniors rather than relying on information provided by Adult Protective Services. As a result, it helps fill a significant gap in information concerning elder abuse and mistreatment.

Survey Considerations

This survey focused on two types of elder abuse: psychological abuse and financial exploitation in those aged 60 and over. Researchers chose to approach this survey with face-to-face and telephone interviews in an effort to respond to a 2003 report from the National Research Council that showed there were numerous deficits in the manner in which elder abuse information was collected. Specifically, this study focused on population-based surveys and risk factors for individual races, rather than relying solely on information provided by Adult Protective Services.

For this survey, financial exploitation includes a range of conduct, including a caregiver or other person taking a senior’s property or money, forging signatures on checks and other financial documents, forcing the elder to sign financial and legal documents, and using fraudulent acts or information for financial gain. Psychological abuse includes threats of causing injury to the senior, destroying personal property, failing to provide needed care, yelling at or insulting the elder, or issuing threats of nursing home confinement.

Risk Factors

Previous population-based surveys and the UCSUR survey found a variety of risk factors related to the likelihood of a senior suffering from psychological and financial abuse, including:

  • Physical health
  • A lack of social support
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Social isolation
  • History of traumatic events
  • Living arrangements
  • Race

UCSUR Survey Results

The results of this population-based survey provide interesting insight into the rates of abuse when it comes to elderly African Americans. Some of the most significant reported findings include:

  • 4 percent of respondents reporting abuse after the age of 60, compared with 13.2 percent of non-blacks
  • 1 percent reporting psychological abuse or mistreatment within the previous 6 months, compared with only 7.2 percent of non-African Americans
  • 23 percent of African Americans reported financial exploitation since the age of 60, while non-blacks reported only 8.4 percent

It is also important to understand that the results of this study compared African Americans with those of other races who had similar educational backgrounds, were of similar ages and had similar marital statuses.

The results of the UCSUR survey show a significant variance between the rates of financial exploitation and psychological mistreatment reported by African Americans and other races. The study was conducted on 903 seniors from Allegheny County in Pennsylvania aged 60 and older, 23 percent of whom were African Americans.

Race Considerations and Elder Abuse

The results of this survey have led researchers to believe that the disparity between African American and other race rates of abuse may be due to the prevalence of extended family involvement and the increased financial pressures seen with a majority of African American families.

Researchers agree that additional study is needed to truly determine the differences between African Americans and other races in terms of elder abuse. However, the results of this survey show that there are significant concerns when it comes to determining the rates of elder abuse based on race.

If you believe you or a loved one have been the victim of elder psychological mistreatment or financial exploitation, an elder abuse attorney may be able to help you receive compensation for your case.





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