Screening for Abuse and Neglect of People with Dementia

Authors

  • Aileen Wiglesworth PhD,

    1. From the *Program in Geriatrics, School of Medicine, Program in Nursing Science and Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Laura Mosqueda MD,

    1. From the *Program in Geriatrics, School of Medicine, Program in Nursing Science and Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ruth Mulnard RN, DNSc, FAAN,

    1. From the *Program in Geriatrics, School of Medicine, Program in Nursing Science and Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Solomon Liao MD,

    1. From the *Program in Geriatrics, School of Medicine, Program in Nursing Science and Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Lisa Gibbs MD,

    1. From the *Program in Geriatrics, School of Medicine, Program in Nursing Science and Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • William Fitzgerald PhD

    1. From the *Program in Geriatrics, School of Medicine, Program in Nursing Science and Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California.
    Search for more papers by this author

Address correspondence to Aileen Wiglesworth, PhD, Program in Geriatrics, 101 The City Drive South, Orange, CA 928683298. E-mail: awiglesw@uci.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To investigate characteristics of people with dementia and their caregivers (CGs) that are associated with mistreatment in order to inform clinicians about screening for mistreatment.

DESIGN: A convenience sample of CG–care recipient (CR) dyads were assessed for literature-supported factors associated with mistreatment, and evidence of mistreatment for the prior year was collected. An expert panel considered the evidence and decided on occurrences of psychological abuse, physical abuse, and neglect based on criteria adopted before data collection.

SETTING: Participants' homes.

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred twenty-nine persons with dementia and their CGs.

MEASUREMENTS: CG and CR characteristics (demographic, health, and psychosocial variables), relationship characteristics, and three elder abuse and neglect detection instruments.

RESULTS: Mistreatment was detected in 47.3%. Variables associated with different kinds and combinations of mistreatment types included the CG's anxiety, depressive symptoms, social contacts, perceived burden, emotional status, and role limitations due to emotional problems and the CR's psychological aggression and physical assault behaviors. The combination of CR's physical assault and psychological aggression provided the best sensitivity (75.4%) and specificity (70.6%) for elder mistreatment as defined by the expert panel. This finding has potential to be useful as a clinical screen for detecting mistreatment.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest important characteristics of older adults with dementia and their CGs that have potential for use in a clinical screening tool for elder mistreatment. Potential screening questions to be asked of CGs of people with dementia are suggested.

Ancillary