Faculty members in the Division of Geriatric Medicine & Gerontology at the UC Irvine Health School of Medicine are nationally known for their research in the field of elder abuse and neglect. Working with the university's Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect, they aspire to stimulate new ideas, identify needed areas of inquiry and to collaborate with investigators across California and beyond. Geriatrics program researchers also seek to ensure that academic findings result in improved services for victims of elder abuse and neglect.
Research areas include:
A study funded by the National Institute of Justice concluded that nearly 90 percent of accidental bruises in older adults occur on the extremities. Researchers also found that the yellow coloration commonly associated with an older mark can show up within 24 hours of bruising. In addition, older adults on medication known to impact coagulation pathways and those with compromised function were more likely to have multiple accidental bruises.
Phase II of the study concluded that bruises from physical abuse are significantly larger and tend to be on the face, the lateral and anterior sides of the arm as well as the upper and lower back. Most of the older adults also knew the cause of their bruising.
The division collaborated with the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia (IMIND) to assess the care given to older adults with dementia. Results of the study, which was funded by the California Department of Health Services, show that mistreatment of people with dementia is prevalent and that it can be associated with certain characteristics in a caregiver and a person with dementia. These findings may help to prevent abuse and neglect of people with dementia.
Elder Abuse Data Systems
A two-part study funded by the Archstone Foundation is underway to improve the quality of data collected on elder abuse in California. Currently the best information on the incidence of elder mistreatment is reported to adult protective services agencies, yet there is evidence that these data do not reflect the true incidence of abuse.
Standardizing Elder Mistreatment Criteria
The National Institute on Aging has funded a project to develop and test a self-reported, survey-based measure that could be used to generate population estimates of elder abuse. With a reliable criterion standard for detecting elder mistreatment, researchers can begin to provide more accurate data and enable policymakers to address this significant and distressing public health issue.