Title

Substance Abuse Associated with Elder Abuse in the United States

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2012

Description

Background: Substance abuse by either victim or perpetrator has long been associated with violence and abuse. Sparse research is available regarding elder abuse and its association with substance abuse. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the association of state-reported domestic elder abuse with regional levels of substance abuse. Methods: Census demographic and elder abuse data were sorted into substate regions to align with the substance use treatment-planning regions for 2269 US counties. From the 2269 US counties there were 229 substate regions in which there were 213,444 investigations of abuse. For the other Ns (reports and substantiations) there were fewer counties and regions. See first sentence of data analyses and first sentence of results. Results: Elder abuse report rates ranged from .03 to .41% (80 regions), investigation rates .001 to .34% (229 regions), and substantiation rates 0 to .22% (184 regions). Elder abuse investigations and substantiations were associated with various forms of substance abuse. Higher investigation rates were significantly associated with a higher rate of any illicit drug use in the past month, a lower median household income, lower proportion of the population graduated high school, and higher population of Hispanics. Higher substantiation rates were significantly associated with higher rate of illicit drug use in the past month and higher population of Hispanics. Conclusion: It may be worthwhile for administrators of violence programs to pay particular attention to substance abuse among their clients and in their community’s environment, especially if older persons are involved. Scientific Significance: Measures of documented elder abuse at the county level are minimal. To be able to associate substance abuse with elder abuse is a significant finding, realizing that the substance abuse can be by the victim or the perpetrator of elder abuse.