Utilization of Formal Support Services for Elder Abuse: Do Informal Supporters Make a Difference?

David Burnes, PhD; Risa Breckman, LCSW; Charles R. Henderson Jr., MA; Mark S. Lachs, MD, MPH; Karl Pillemer, PhD


Gerontologist. 2019;59(4):619-624. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background and Objectives: Few elder abuse (EA) victims ever seek or receive assistance from formal support services designed to mitigate risk and harm of revictimization. This study examined whether the presence of third-party "concerned persons" in victims' personal social networks plays a role in enabling formal support service utilization.

Research Design and Methods: A representative population-based survey administered to adults (n = 800) in New York State identified 83 EA cases from the past year. Penalized likelihood logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between availability of a concerned person and victim formal support services usage.

Results: EA victims who had a concerned person in their personal life were significantly more likely to use formal EA support services than victims without a concerned person. EA victims who lived with their perpetrator were significantly less likely to use formal services.

Discussion and Implications: Third-party concerned persons represent a critical population to target in efforts designed to promote EA victim help-seeking.