Elder Self-Neglect, Abuse Linked to Higher Death Risk

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TUESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) — Elder self-neglect and abuse are associated with a higher risk of death, according to a study in the Aug. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

XinQi Dong, M.D., from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues examined the association between elder self-neglect or abuse reported to social services agencies and all-cause mortality among 9,318 elderly individuals, where 1,544 were reported for elder self-neglect and 113 were reported for elder abuse.

During a median of 6.9 years, there were 4,306 reported deaths. After adjusting for possible confounding factors, the researchers found that the one-year mortality risk was significantly higher among cases of reported elder self-neglect (hazard ratio, 5.82), although the risk decreased after one year (hazard ratio, 1.88). The risk of mortality was also significantly higher among cases of reported elder abuse (hazard ratio, 1.39). The higher mortality risks were found at nearly all levels of cognitive or physical function.

"Elder self-neglect and abuse, common but under-recognized and poorly understood geriatric syndromes, are both associated with increased mortality, particularly among those with worse cognitive and physical function but present among all categories except the best functioning tertile in the case of elder abuse," Dong and colleagues conclude

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