Waldegrave, Charles

Measuring elder abuse in New Zealand : findings from the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NZLSA) Charles Waldegrave - Wellington, New Zealand: Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit, 2015 - electronic document (16 pages); PDF file: 487.43 KB

Objectives: There have been no previous studies measuring the prevalence of elder abuse in New Zealand. The aim of this study was to provide an evidence base of the
prevalence of elder abuse, some of the populations most affected and the observed impacts of it.
Methods: The second wave of the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NZLSA) in 2012 had a national random sample of 2,987 older New Zealanders aged between 52 and 86 years, 1,699 of whom were 65 years and older. The Vulnerability to Abuse Screening Scale (VASS) which was developed for the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health as a self-report screening scale for elder abuse was applied. Four sub-scales: vulnerability; dependence; dejection; and coercion, each containing 3 questions, enabled the identification of different types of elder abuse. The responses also enabled the calculation of an evidence based measure of prevalence and a base to apply future projections from. The responses were assessed for associations with gender, marital status and ethnicity and then further tested for statistical associations with a range of health and wellbeing measures, including CASP-12, WHOQoL-8, SF-12 Physical and Mental Health components, CES-D Screening Test for Depression and the De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale
Findings: The study demonstrated that elder abuse, as measured by VASS, was prevalent for at least 1 in 10 participants aged 65 years and over on each of the four sub-scales. Items concerning psychological abuse were more frequent than those associated with coercion and physical abuse. Women experienced significantly more abuse than men on three subscales, but surprisingly men were significantly more coerced than women. Māori experienced significantly more elder abuse when compared with non-Māori on all four subscales. Divorced, separated and widowed older people experienced a greater level of dejection with sad and lonely feelings, whereas partnered people showed lower levels. Consistent statistical correlations were found between elder abuse and lower levels of health and wellbeing, and higher levels of depression and loneliness. Regression analysis identified the variables most strongly associated with each elder abuse component. Loneliness was the only one very closely associated with all four. An exponential increase in elder abuse was identified using population projection data if nothing is done to reduce it. A 40 percent increase in the decade to 2023 and a 32 percent increase from that enlarged base from 2023 to 2033 was projected.
Conclusion: Elder abuse is pervasive in New Zealand, even though the vast majority of elderly people don’t experience it. Furthermore it further marginalises people who are already marginalised. The damage to people of elder abuse is consistently negative and costly to health and welfare services as a consequence. (Authors' abstract).
This report was commissioned by the Office for Senior Citizens within the Ministry of Social Development. The Office for Senior Citizens prepared a summary report (#4732). Record #4799