The abuse of older men
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The Abuse of Older Men. Jordan I. Kosberg, Ph.D., ACSW University of Alabama Endowed Chair of Social Work School of Social Work The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, Alabama Conference on Aging, Ageism, and Abuse Simon Fraser University Vancouver, B.C. May 11-12, 2006.

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The Abuse of Older Men

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The Abuse of Older Men

Jordan I. Kosberg, Ph.D., ACSW

University of Alabama Endowed Chair of Social Work

School of Social Work

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Conference on Aging, Ageism, and Abuse

Simon Fraser University

Vancouver, B.C.

May 11-12, 2006


REASONS FOR ELDER ABUSE BEING SEEN MAINLY AS A WOMAN’S PROBLEM

  • Popular and professional literature

  • Mass media

  • Lack of males in abuse shelters or involved with social and health care resources

  • The numerical majority of older women, among older populations

  • Perception of men as criminals, deviants, and abusers

  • Men seen to be in privileged positions of power, authority, and wealth


SOME FINDINGS REGARDING ABUSED OLDER MEN

General Community Samples

  • Older men are as likely to be abused as are older women

  • In Boston, it was found that an equal number of older men were abused as older women (Pillemer & Finkelhor, 1988)

  • Given the greater number of older women, it was concluded that the proportion of abuse against older men was higher

  • From a national study, it was found that the proportion of abused older men exceeded those of older women (Tatara, 1993)


Findings (Continued)

Older Husbands

-- As likely as older wives to be abused.

  • “The battered husband syndrome” (Steinmetz, 1977-78)

  • “Husband abuse” (Tutty, 1999)

  • “Abused husbands” (Pritchard, 2001)

  • “Husband Abuse” (Health Canada, 1999)

  • “Abuse by Women Against Male Intimates”

    (Nicholls & Dutton, 2001)


Findings (Continued)

  • Sexual Abuse

    Roberto, Teaster, & Nikzad (in press), found that older men who are mentally and physically vulnerable, and those residing within congregate settings, are especially vulnerable to being sexually abused.

    The sexual abuse is the home was found to be perpetrated by a relative and abuse in congregate settings perpetrated by a non-relative with mental retardation.


ESPECIALLY VULERABLE AND INVISIBLE GROUPS OF OLDER MEN

  • Living in inner cities (victimized, homeless, nameless)

  • Incarcerated in prisons (where old age comes earlier)

  • Living in remote rural areas

  • Older and impaired husbands

  • Those who are lonely and alone

  • Gay men

  • Those within female-dominated and female-oriented mental health and long-term care facilities


Vulnerable Groups (continued)

  • Those Lonely and Depressed are Vulnerable to Self-Destructive and Self-Abusive Behavior

    • Mental Problems

    • Substance Abuse

    • Suicide


REASONS FOR THE INVISIBILITY OF ABUSED OLDER MEN

  • A lack of research on the abuse of older men

  • Their Invisibility in certain settings

  • Self-defense by men leading to charges of abuse (called “reciprocal abuse”)

  • Inexperience in accessing community services

  • Inability to report abuse (physical impairments)

  • Institutional/prison settings

  • Isolation

  • Unfamiliar with methods to report abuse


REASONS - Continued

  • Under-reporting of abuse by older men

  • Shame – as a man to be abused

    • Fear of retaliation

    • Shame at being deceived

    • Fear of institutionalization

    • Perception of being “paid back” for earlier behavior

    • Embarrassment – of one’s vulnerability

    • Community and social stigma


EXPLANATIONS FOR THE ABUSE OF OLDER MEN

  • Less family devotion toward older male members of the family

  • Cultural priorities

    • Young over the old

    • Females over males

    • Wealthy over poor

    • With families over those without families

    • Urban over rural populations


Explanations - Continued

  • Past Abusive Behavior of Older Men

    • Spouses

    • Children

    • Grandchildren

  • Economic Problems

    • Economic dependency on the older men

    • Relationship between economic problems and the abuse of vulnerable family members

    • Dependency of older men


  • Explanations (Continued)

    • High Risk Indicators

      • Living in a domestic setting

      • Marital Status

      • Poor health

      • Isolation

      • Chronological age

      • Substance abuse

      • Behavior problems – provocateurs

      • Dependency


    REASONS THAT OLDER ABUSED MEN FAIL TO USE COMMUNITY SERVICES

    • Definition of problems

    • Help-seeking behavior

    • Characteristics of formal caregivers

    • Characteristics of other service users

    • Biases against (abused) older men


    METHODS BY WHICH TO COMBAT THE ABUSE OF OLDER MEN

    • Publicize the existence of the problem

    • Challenge ageism and sexism in society

    • Challenge ageism and sexism by formal caregivers

    • Provide supportive resources for family caregivers

    • Create alternatives to family care

    • Seek to improve the education/training of workers

    • Consider resources for abused women and abused men


    In Conclusion

    • There is a need to be mindful that elder abuse is perpetrated against older men as well as older women.

    • More surveys and studies are needed to discover vulnerable groups of older men.

    • Efforts are needed to help prevent the existence of such problems.


    Conclusion (Continued)

    • Attention to the possibility of abuse of older men is related to

      • Gender equity

      • Ensuring necessary resources are available

      • Safeguarding the lives of our grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers – now and in the future.

    • Thus, we have both a personal and professional stake in preventing the abuse of older men -- no more but no less than the abuse of older women.


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