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Perceptions of elder abuse: voices of professionals and volunteers in Sweden – an exploratory study


Christen Erlingsson RN, Stagneliusgatan 14, Kalmar 391 82, Sweden.


The aim of this study was to examine perceptions of elder abuse in groups representing organizations considered potential sources of help and support for abused elders in Sweden. Focus group interviews were conducted with representatives from: the police; primary care; municipal eldercare; a church; a caregiver support organization; and a crime victim support organization. Data were analysed through qualitative content analysis. Although participants discussed elder abuse from the position of their respective organization/group, analysis revealed a preponderance of shared perceptions between groups. A descriptive framework of elder abuse was developed and four themes emerged including: good intentions in abusive situations; older generation's responsibility for elder abuse; failing to report abuse; and prevention of abuse. Findings included perceptions of victim blaming and a tolerance for elder abuse. Participants perceived that anyone could be provoked to abuse, and that abusers can also be considered victims in abusive situations. Further research on elder abuse perceptions is recommended among involved family members, in order to address elder abuse in ways that will allow recognition among both those providing and those receiving assistance.