Contextualising abuse of older people

Document Type


Publication details

Hughes, M 1993, 'Contextualising abuse of older people', Australian Journal on Ageing, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 37-41.

The publisher's version of this article is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-6612.1993.tb00617.x


The emerging Australian response to the abuse of older people appears to recognise that ‘elder abuse’ is not a discrete phenomenon and that the concept incorporates a range of differing dimensions. This paper argues that the development of an appropriate Australian response could be assisted by making explicit the various contexts of abuse. Specifically, the paper investigates the interpersonal and lifespan contexts of the abuse of disabled older people in caregiving relationships. It highlights the role of social exchange and interdependency in the causal processes of abuse, as well as in the prevention of abusive behaviour. It also recognises the value of understanding the patterns of conflict and exchange behaviour in the relationship throughout the lifespan. This contextualising process is served by making links between the literature on the abuse of older people and other related literatures, such as the family violence and family caregiving literatures.

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