Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly

  • Andrea Berzlanovich
  • Barbara Schleicher
  • Éva Rásky


Violence may affect everyone, even elderly people, whether man or woman. As a result of reduced physical strength, older people are rather helpless when it comes to defending themselves, and frailty, illness, and care dependency entail an increased risk for serious health damage as a result of physical violence or trauma. Elderly people mostly have more grave and long-standing effects to bear than younger victims of violence. In case of acute injuries of chronic and psychological consequences of violence, most victims do turn to medical help. However, the truth about the triggers of their suffering is often withheld, because of shame, fear, or dependence upon their tormentors, or it may not be voiced because of an underlying disease. It is therefore crucial to detect violence as the cause behind visible symptoms and complaints, not only to ensure the correct medical treatment and adequate support of victims but also to prevent further abuse.


Elderly Forms of violence Neglect Risk factors Continued impairment Physical and chemical restraints Sexualized violence Economic violence Magnitude of violence Anamnesis 

Further Reading

  1. Berzlanovich, A., Schleicher, B., & Rásky, É. (2012). Gewalt gegen ältere Pflegebedürftige. Medical Tribune, Plattform Geriatrie, 39, 30.Google Scholar
  2. Berzlanovich, A., Schleicher, B., & Rásky, E. (2014). Gerichtsverwertbare Dokumentation von Gewalt. Praxis Pflegen 2014. Heft 17, 19.Google Scholar
  3. Berzlanovich, A., Schöpfer, J., & Keil, W. (2012). Todesfälle bei Gurtfixierungen. Dtsch Arztebl, 109(3), 27–32.Google Scholar
  4. Sethi, D., Wood, S., Mitis, F., Bellis, M., Penhale, B., Iborra Marmolejo, I., et al. (2011). European report on preventing elder maltreatment. Copenhagen: World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe.Google Scholar
  5. Wasan, A., Wootton, J., & Jamison, R. (2005). Dealing with difficult patients in your pain practice. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, 30, 184–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. World Health Organization. (2002). The Toronto declaration on the global prevention of elder abuse. Geneva.Google Scholar
  7. World Health Organization. (2011). World report on disability. Geneva.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Berzlanovich
    • 1
  • Barbara Schleicher
    • 2
  • Éva Rásky
    • 3
  1. 1.Center of Forensic ScienceMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Gesundheit Osterreich GmbH, OBIG Austrian Health InstituteViennaAustria
  3. 3.Institute of Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Medical University of GrazGrazAustria

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