Spouses were the perpetrators of 24 per cent of family murders of people over 60 years of age. Most victims of elder abuse are women, while most perpetrators are men. In general, adult children are often the perpetrators of elder abuse, followed by other family members and spouses. Unfortunately, institutional abuse of elders (i.e., hospitals, nursing homes, and pension and care homes) is also becoming a major concern, especially as more families are unable to provide adequate care for the elderly in the home.
Current research shows that the primary abusers of the elderly are adult children and other family members, indicating that violence against the elderly occurs mainly in the home. If a child witnesses an older family member being abused by his parents, that child learns that acting aggressively towards the elderly is acceptable behavior. Abandonment of an elderly person by a person who has physical custody of the older person or by a person who has assumed responsibility for providing care for the elderly person. It has been suggested that family stress, both psychological and financial, may be a contributing factor to elder abuse.
However, current research estimates that approximately 1 to 2 million Americans, age 65 and older, have been abused or neglected by the very people entrusted with their care and protection (National Center on Elder Abuse, 200.