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Keywords:

  • adult protective services;
  • database analysis;
  • elder mistreatment

BACKGROUND: Mistreatment of adults, including abuse, neglect, and exploitation, affects more than 1.8 million older Americans. Presently, there is a lack of precise estimates of the magnitude of the problem and the variability in risk for different types of mistreatment depending on such factors as age and gender.

OBJECTIVES: To describe the universe of case reports received during one year in a centralized computer database maintained by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services—Adult Protective Services Division (TDPRS-APS).

DESIGN: Descriptive.

SETTING: Texas.

PARTICIPANTS: Mistreated or neglected older people.

MEASUREMENTS: The distribution of abuse types reported and population prevalence estimates of each abuse type by age and sex.

RESULTS: There were over 62,000 allegations of adult mistreatment and neglect filed in Texas in 1997. Neglect accounted for 80% of the allegations. The incidence of being reported to the TDPRS-APS increased sharply after age 65. The prevalence was 1,310 individuals/100,000 ≥65 years of age for all abuse types.

CONCLUSIONS: The TDPRS database is an excellent tool for characterizing and tracking cases of reported elder mistreatment. Achieving a clearer understanding of this ever-increasing public health problem can aid in the development of better interventions and prevention strategies.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors are grateful to Victor Chang and Samuel Riley for their technical assistance and to the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services for the use of the database and their support of this project.