Violence across the lifespan: Interconnections among forms of abuse as described by marginalized canadian elders and their care-givers

Christine A. Walsh, Jenny Ploeg, Lynne Lohfeld, Jaclyn Horne, Harriet MacMillan, Wing Leung Lai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Elder abuse is recognized as a major problem, with profound effects on the health and quality of life of older persons. In our aging population, elder abuse represents an escalating clinical issue for social workers and health care professionals who provide care to older people. A major gap in our examination of elder abuse is the potential contribution and application of knowledge developed within research derived from other forms of family violence. This paper explores the interconnections among various forms of violence across the lifespan, and the experiences voiced by marginalized elders and their care providers. We interviewed seventy-seven rarely consulted older adults and forty-three formal and informal care-givers of older adults in focus groups in Ontario and Alberta, Canada. Study findings revealed four major themes that describe interconnections among types of abuse: (i) intergenerational cycles of abuse; (ii) violence across the lifespan; (iii) exposure to multiple subtypes of elder abuse; and (iv) ongoing spouse abuse that shifted into elder abuse. The results from this study indicate that victims often 'suffer in silence' and cultural factors, ageism and gender are ubiquitous to elder abuse. Recommendations to reduce elder abuse include education, formal and informal supports and services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-514
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Elder abuse
  • Family violence
  • Marginalized elders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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