One of the benefits of such coordinating councils is to encourage exchange among persons throughout the community and working in different organizations and settings, as well as developing more highly integrated service delivery systems and enhancing communication (Sullivan and Allen, 2001).

Conclusions and Implications

Although the field of elder abuse clearly lacks scientific evaluations of effective interventions, several implications may be drawn from intervention studies involving child abuse and domestic violence. First, there is evidence to suggest that interventions aimed at assisting caregivers in their important role hold promise for this population. Interventions that have been successfully used with abusive parents, in particular, have a clear parallel to elder abuse. Importantly, both forms of abuse emerge in the context of a dependency relationship, whereby the caregiver must learn about and respond appropriately to the needs and demands of the dependent child or adult. Cognitive-behavioral methods addressing misunderstandings about the reasons for a child’s behavior, misattributions, and limited knowledge of normal development, for example, have been particularly successful with abusive parents and would likely apply to elder abuse caregivers as well.

In addition, there is converging evidence supporting the utility and acceptance of certain interventions for elder abuse, based largely on clinical reports, uncontrolled studies, and practitioner surveys. Based on professional consensus, Nahmiash and Reis (2000) conclude that the most successful strategies involve concrete services such as nursing care and homemaking assistance, followed by empowerment strategies such as support groups, education, and volunteer buddy/advocates (e.g., Hiatt and Jones, 2000). Moreover, similar to abusive parents discussed above, caregiver abusers require individual supportive counseling to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as education and training concerning care of the elderly. These valuable clinical impressions and accepted practices from the field point to areas of important intervention priorities and evaluation.

The intervention literature for caregivers of older adults with dementia offers further insights into promising psychosocial interventions. Although these studies do not, for the most part, focus on elder abuse populations, they provide valuable guidance on ways in which caregivers can be helped to minimize their distress and presumably decrease the likelihood of elder abuse. In a recent review, Schulz and colleagues (2001) concluded that caregiver intervention studies show promise of achieving clinically significant outcomes in improving depressive symptoms and reducing anxiety, anger, and hostility, symptoms that have been causally linked to various forms of domestic violence. As in the child abuse literature, intervention

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement