2006 Community-based Research Programs

Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Shelly L. Jackson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatric Medicine

Societal awareness of financial abuse of the elderly in particular and elder abuse in general is a relatively recent phenomenon, and relevant empirical data are scarce. Because of the significant number of elder people in society and the expected continued dramatic increase in their number, the relative wealth and anticipated growth in wealth of the elderly, the vulnerability to financial abuse on the elderly, a greater understanding of and an improved societal response to financial abuse of the elderly is vital. The goals of this research are to (1) examine differences and similarities across four forms of elder mistreatment (financial abuse, physical abuse, neglect, financial and physical or neglect) to identify factors that contribute to or are associated with the financial abuse of the elderly as opposed to other forms of abuse; (2) identify what triggers and promotes the reporting of this abuse; (3) identify what facilitates or limits the investigations of such abuse. This pilot study is intended to determine the feasibility of a large-scale study of this nature, to pilot test instruments and procedures, and to identify and assess potential impediments to such a study.

A Population-Based Study of Elder Mistreatment

Claire E. Curry, J.D., School of Law, Legal Aid Justice Center
Sue Dwoskin, Albemarle County Department of Social Services
Jonathan M. Evans, M.D., M.P.H., School of Medicine
James K. Roche, M.D., Ph.D., School of Medicine

This research is a continuation of prior research. During a 12 month period from July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005 we reviewed all of the Albemarle County Adult Protective Services (APS) investigative reports on all reported cases of alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation of adults residing in Albemarle County. Among other results, we found that during the study period, 357 reports of alleged mistreatment were investigated, involving 296 subjects. All reports of alleged elder mistreatment investigated by Albemarle County Adult Protective Services (approximately 400) during a 12-month period from July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006 will be reviewed and data abstracted onto an electronic data collection form (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet) for further review and statistical analysis using SPSS statistical software. Incidence rates will be calculated and stratified by age, gender, residence in the community versus institutional settings, as well as other demographic and clinical factors. Incidence rates will be compared with rates calculated from the prior study to identify trends over time.

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Strength, Balance and Function in the Elderly

Christopher D. Ingersoll, Ph.D., Joe Gieck Professor Of Sports Medicine

Maintaining and restoring independent living and improving quality of life are important for the elderly. Compelling evidence has emerged over the past 2 decades supporting the feasibility and the benefits of targeted physical activity programs for older adults. Most strength training studies evaluated laboratory or home-based exercise programs. It is known that strength training improves strength and decreases likelihood of falling in the elderly. Many exercise studies of the elderly incorporate strength training and aerobic exercise and test their effects on strength, balance and function. Dance-based aerobic exercise, for example, has been shown to improve balance and locomotion/agility, thereby decreasing risk of falling, in the elderly. Optimized programs integrating strength, balance and function activities for the elderly are not well studied. An ongoing, progressive “balance” program that can incorporate new entrants without disrupting continuing development of longer-standing participants has been developed at ACAC-Charlottesville. Initial sessions in this program focus on balance awareness and strengthening the muscle groups that are most likely to need work. Participants are introduced to the concepts of stability, speed, and agility throughout the program. Anecdotally, this program appears to result in better functional improvements and better retention and interest than traditional exercise programs for the elderly. In this project, we will compare strength, balance and function of participants completing this new functional balance program to those who have completed a traditional, community-based exercise program designed for the elderly. If the results of this initial study show promise, we will pursue a larger study of the functional balance exercise program.

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