Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich



Possible Causes of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an extremely complex problem. Below is a simple listing of some of the possible factors that cause elder abuse.

  • Caregiver stress: Individuals who do not have the necessary skills or resources and who aren’t prepared to be a caregiver may experience stress which may lead to elder abuse.
  • Dependency or impairment of older adults: Individuals in poor health are more likely to be abused than those who are in relatively good health. Caregivers who are financially dependent on the older adult are also more likely to abuse.
  • External stress: The same things that cause child abuse and spousal abuse can also cause elder abuse: financial problems, job stress, family problems, etc.
  • Social isolation: Again, the same social isolation that produces child and spousal abuse can also cause elder abuse. Social isolation is both an indicator of potential abuse as well as a potential contributing cause.
  • Intergenerational violence: When violence is learned as a form of acceptable behavior in childhood, that child now in the role of caregiver is simply returning the abuse they suffered.
  • Personal problems of the abuser: Caregivers who have such problems as alcoholism, substance abuse or behavior health problems are more likely to become an abuser than those who don’t have such problems.