• elder abuse;
  • trauma;
  • alcohol;
  • dementia;
  • Alzheimer's disease


To characterize the severity and outcome of traumatic injuries suffered by victims of elder abuse, describe the characteristics of the perpetrators, and identify risk factors associated with severe traumatic elder abuse.

DESIGN: Case–control study.

SETTING: Two Level I trauma units in the greater Chicago, Illinois, metropolitan area.

PARTICIPANTS: Forty-one cases of elder abuse resulting in severe traumatic injury were identified between 1999 and 2006. Controls were randomly selected from the list of elderly patients in the trauma registry (N=123).

MEASUREMENTS: Elder abuse was defined according to the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act.

RESULTS: In this study, 85% of the perpetrators were family members or intimate partners. In the final multivariable logistic regression model, victims of severe traumatic elder abuse were more likely to be female, to have a neurological or mental disorder, and to abuse drugs or alcohol.

CONCLUSION: This is the first clinical case–control study detailing clinical outcomes and evaluating risk factors of persons suffering severe physical abuse. Of elderly trauma victims, those who are physically abused have more-severe injuries than their nonabused counterparts. More research is needed to better evaluate risk factors of physical abuse and effective interventions.