• mistreatment;
  • older adults;
  • rural India;
  • ecological framework


There is limited evidence for the multifactorial aetiology of elder mistreatment. The goal of this study is to investigate the factors associated with the mistreatment of older adults living in rural Tamil Nadu, India.


A cross-sectional household survey was conducted in a sub-district of rural Tamil Nadu by using a standard questionnaire. Face to face interviews were conducted with 902 older adults aged 61 years and older. The relation between the characteristics of older adults, family members and family environments with reported mistreatment was examined by univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses.


The multivariate results reveal that elder mistreatment is related to several factors associated with the perpetrator and the family environment. Perpetrator factors include middle age, a tertiary education (protective), alcohol consumption and the mistreatment of other family members. Family environment factors include family stress and low cohesion. Among the factors related to older adults, only physical abuse of family members was associated with exposure to mistreatment.


The characteristics of older adults, family members and family environment are potent predictors of elder mistreatment. Multi-dynamic interventions should target dysfunctional families displaying alcohol use, relationship conflicts, low cohesion and the presence of some form of family violence. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.