Research Article: Report of multiple abuse against older adults in three Brazilian cities

Date Published: February 8, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Rosalina Aparecida Partezani Rodrigues, Ana Maria Ribeiro dos Santos, Maria de Lourdes de Farias Pontes, Edilene Araújo Monteiro, Jack Roberto Silva Fhon, Alisson Fernandes Bolina, Vanessa Costa Almeida, Luipa Michele Silva, Vincenzo De Luca.


This study analyses the multiple abuse against older adults reported to the elder abuse police units of three Brazilian cities from 2009 to 2013. This is a longitudinal and retrospective study carried out through the analysis of police reports (PRs) in the elder abuse police units of three Brazilian cities: Ribeirão Preto (SP), Teresina (PI), and João Pessoa (PB). Descriptive statistical analysis consisted of absolute and percentage frequencies. The chi-square test, Fisher’s Exact test, and Relative Risk (RR) were used to analyze the data, with a 95% Confidence Interval (CI) and a significance of 5%. A total of 2,313 reports of older adult abuse were analyzed, of which 245 (10.6%) were related to reports of multiple abuse, 49.4% in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, 22.9% in João Pessoa, Paraíba, and 27.8% in Teresina, Piauí. Most of the victims of recurrent older adult abuse are female and younger elderly. Psychological abuse was the most recurrent, followed by financial abuse, occurring in the victim’s own home. In João Pessoa, older women and elderly living with their abusers were at a higher risk of report of multiple abuse acts. In Ribeirão Preto, living with the aggressor was a risk factor for multiple violent acts. In the total population of the study, living without companion and not living with the aggressor were identified as protective factors against recurrent violence. The need to implement social and legal actions to improve safety for the more vulnerable groups is emphasized.

Partial Text

Population ageing is a global phenomenon arising from increasing life expectancy and decreasing fertility. However, current public policies in some countries relegate older adults to a secondary position in relation to young and adult populations. Between 2015 and 2030, the number of people over the age of 60 in the world is predicted to increase by 56%, from 901 million to 1.4 billion. By 2050, this population is predicted to have reached approximately 2.1 billion [1–2]. Between 1980 and 2025, the number of older adults is expected to grow by 217% in Latin America and by 412% in Brazil, where this population will become the sixth largest in the world in absolute numbers [3].

This longitudinal and retrospective study was carried out through the analysis of police reports (PRs) filed at the elder abuse police unit of three Brazilian cities: Ribeirão Preto (SP), Teresina (PI), and João Pessoa (PB). Data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) indicate that Ribeirão Preto is located in the country side of the state of São Paulo, to the northwest of the capital. Its population in 2010 was 604,682 inhabitants, 12.61% of whom were older adults. The other two cities are located in the Northeast Region: Teresina, capital of Piauí, with 814,230 inhabitants, 8.4% of whom were over 60 years old; and João Pessoa, capital of Paraíba, with 723,515 inhabitants, of whom 10.3% were older adults [13].

A total of 2,313 reports of elder abuse were analyzed, of which 245 were related to report of multiple acts of abuse. Of these, 49.4% took place in Ribeirão Preto (78.5% had three PRs; 14.9%, four PRs; 5.8%, five PRs; and 0.8%, six PRs), 22.9% in João Pessoa (83.9% had three PRs; and 16.1%, four PRs) and 27.8% in Teresina (82.4% had three PRs; 13.2%, four PRs; and 4.4%, five PRs. The majority of the older adults were female (63.3%), aged 60–69 years, had completed primary education, and were mostly married. The mean age (in years) was 70.60 (± 6.72) in Ribeirão Preto, 70.41 (± 7.53) in João Pessoa, and 69.81 (± 7.91) in Teresina. The median age was 70.0, 69.0 and 69.0 years in Ribeirão Preto, João Pessoa and Teresina, respectively (Table 1).

Older adult abuse is a complex issue and a global public health and human rights problem involving socio-demographic and socio-economic aspects [15]. However, research about the forms and incidence of this phenomenon is still in an incipient stage.

According to the results of the present study, most of the victims of multiple abuse were female, and younger older adults sought specialized police units more frequently to report this type of crime. Most of the 2,313 PRs analyzed were cases of psychological abuse, mainly in the city of Ribeirão Preto, followed by Teresina and João Pessoa. The risk factors for multiple abuse in the three cities were having a partner and living with the aggressor. The system of legal protection for older adults must adopt protocols for more complete records, and health professionals must be trained to evaluate older adults in order to identify and prevent abuse. A general picture is necessary for planning services or legal/social frameworks, including not just the victim but also the perpetrator. This would allow appropriate services to be planned having families as target. At the same time, society must implement social and legal actions to improve safety for this vulnerable group.




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