An analysis of elder abuse rates in Milwaukee County

Mary J. Thomson, Lauren K. Lietzau, Megan M. Doty, Linda Cieslik, Ramona Williams, Linda N. Meurer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Introduction: The elder abuse and neglect burden in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is substantial, with 3384 reports made from 2006 to 2009. Current prevalence estimates are determined from reported cases only and are likely underestimated. Provider awareness of victim and perpetrator characteristics is necessary to increase recognition and response. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of elder abuse and neglect cases reported to the Milwaukee County Department on Aging (MCDA) from 2006 to 2009 was performed to provide a profile of the county's elder abuse burden by victim, perpetrator, and reporter characteristics. Annual reporting trends were identified using Poisson regression analysis. Results: Fifty-eight percent of MCDA reports of abuse were substantiated after investigation. Victims in Milwaukee County tended to be older than 75 (64%), female (64%), and white (62%). Reporting rates to the MCDA were significantly lower in 2009 than 2006. Perpetrators were often adult children (48%) or a spouse (14%). Forty percent of life-threatening cases of self-neglect were due to unfulfilled medical needs. Most reports were made by medical professionals (23%), relatives of the victim (21%), and community agencies (18%). Only 13% of elder abuse victims were placed in nursing homes and assisted living centers; many received services to assist independent living. Discussion: Although this study is limited to reported cases only, it provides a valuable profile of pertinent elder abuse characteristics in Milwaukee County. Conclusion: Characteristics of vulnerable elders, potential abusers, and investigation outcomes are described to inform clinical practice about this important social issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-276
Number of pages6
JournalWisconsin medical journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


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