The key objective of this project was to improve understanding about domestic elder abuse, which is becoming increasingly recognised as a social problem in many countries. The issue is of concern to health professionals, legislators, policymakers, criminal justice professionals and academics across a number of disciplines.
Elder abuse takes a number of forms and can occur within domestic and institutional settings, which makes definition, detection, and intervention problematic. We identified that in England, the care of the elderly is moving away from institutions to the family whereas in Japan the trend is reversed with more elderly people moving into supported care away from their family. It is necessary for professionals to extend their knowledge about domestic abuse to older people.
Research suggests that the social conditions of caregivers have a direct relation to elder abuse in domestic settings, and there is a strongly gendered dimension to this. Our research reviewed the existing literature on domestic elder abuse in Japan and England to analyse social strain as a key determinant in the abuse experienced by some women at the last stage of the life cycle.
In our findings, we suggested that there should be a new focus in criminology, concerning the social construction of age and ageism and their role in elder abuse. We acknowledged the difficulties with the underreporting of incidents and comparing data.
We explored the combined determinants of gender, poverty and age in regards to increasing the risk of abuse among elderly women and concluded that more cross-cultural empirical research is needed, as well as the development of a multi-agency approach to support the abused.