Abuse of older Chinese with dementia by family caregivers: An inquiry into the role of caregiver burden

Chau Wai Elsie Yan, Timothy Kwok

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study examined the prevalence and risk factors for elder abuse in older Chinese with dementia by their family caregivers in Hong Kong. Methods: A sample of 122 family caregivers of older persons with dementia was conveniently recruited from local community centers for the elderly. Participants provided information on their demographic characteristics, care recipients' physical functioning and agitated behavior, caregiver burden, and whether they had directed any abusive behavior at the care recipients in the previous month. Results: Sixty-two and 18 per cent of the caregivers reported having verbally or physically abused the care recipients in the past month. Family caregivers who spent more days co-residing with the care recipients, lacked any assistance from a domestic helper, observed more agitated behaviors in the care recipients, and/or reported a higher level of caregiver stress, reported more abusive behaviors. The results of hierarchical regression analysis showed that the number of co-residing days (p<0.001), lack of any assistance from a domestic helper (p<0.05), and caregiver burden (p<0.01) were significant predictors of verbal abuse. Care recipient agitated behavior (p<0.01) also predicted verbal abuse, with its effect mediated by caregiver burden. For physical abuse, the number of co-residing days (p<0.01) was the only significant predictor. Conclusions: Verbal and physical abuse were highly prevalent among this population of older Chinese with dementia. A higher level of caregiver stress is related to a higher level of verbal, but not physical abuse inflicted by the caregivers of these older persons with dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-535
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Dementia
  • Elder abuse
  • Family caregivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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