Is elder abuse and neglect a social phenomenon? Data from the first national prevalence survey in Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article discusses findings from the First National Survey on Elder Abuse and Neglect in Israel, conducted during 2004-2005 under the sponsorship of The Association for Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel (ESHEL) and the National Insurance Institute. The goals were to examine the prevalence and severity of various forms of abuse and neglect from the victims' perspective, to examine correlates and predictors, and to develop profiles of elders at risk. Data were collected through personal interviews from a national representative sample of community urban dwellers age 65 and older, using cluster sampling techniques and sampling proportionately both Arab and Jewish elders. The sample was composed of 392 males and 650 females, 89% were Jews and 11% were non-Jews. The instrument included sociodemographic data, health and activities of daily living (ADL), a measure of safety, and a battery to examine seven types of abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, limitation of freedom, financial exploitation, sexual, and neglect). Findings indicate that 18.4% of the respondents were exposed to at least one type of abuse during the 12 months preceding the interview, the highest form being verbal abuse followed by financial exploitation. The rates were quite similar between Jews and Arabs. Women were more exposed to physical violence and Arab women were the most vulnerable. Physical, emotional, verbal, limitation of freedom, and sexual abuse occurred mostly among partners. The rates of physical, sexual, and limitation of freedom abuse, however, were relatively low. Financial exploitation was mostly inflicted by adult children. Partners as perpetrators had more chronic health problems and physical and mental disabilities. Children as perpetrators were unemployed, had various mental health problems, and were substance abusers, often in a process of separation or divorce and tended to live with the victims. Neglect in answering primary needs was found among 20% of the sample, regarding the 3 months preceding the interview. This high rate might be related to elders tending to avoid seeking help or sharing their needs with their families. When victims sought help it was mostly from medical and health services. The findings thus corroborate that elder abuse and neglect is a social problem in Israeli society and has to be addressed in policy discourse and service developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-277
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported and funded by ESHEL—The Association for Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel, which also served as an Advisory Committee, and by the National Insurance Institute.


  • Elder abuse
  • Family contexts
  • Israel
  • Neglect
  • Social problem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Is elder abuse and neglect a social phenomenon? Data from the first national prevalence survey in Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this