Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


‘Abusive behaviour’ towards people with dementia by family carers is common

Half of family carers of people with dementia report some abusive behaviour towards the person they are caring for and one third report ‘significant’ levels of abuse, according to new research from UCL (University College London) published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The paper authors feel that this is unsurprising, as most people with dementia are being cared for by dedicated family or friends, often with little support.

Dr Claudia Cooper, UCL Department of Mental Health Sciences and lead author of the study, said: “Many people think about elder abuse in terms of “lashing out” and other similar acts, but abuse as defined by government guidelines* can be as simple as shouting or swearing at the person being cared for.”

The UK government is currently consulting about a revision of their policy for safeguarding vulnerable adults. This focuses entirely on preventing abuse by paid carers, but in light of their clinical experience the authors wanted to find out how common abusive behaviour is and highlight that policy on abuse will be ineffective unless it is realistic about the problems that family carers are facing.

The researchers conducted a survey of 220 family carers of people with dementia newly referred to psychiatric services and living at home. 115 (52.3 per cent) of the carers reported some abusive behaviour, such as very occasionally screaming or yelling, and 74 (33.6 per cent) reported significant levels of abuse, such as more frequent insulting or swearing at the person for whom they care. Only 1.4 per cent reported significant physical abuse.

The measure used by the researchers in the study is known as the Modified Conflict Tactics Scale (MCTS). Carers answered questions about how often in the last three months they had acted in five psychologically and five physically abusive ways on a scale of 0-4 (never – all the time). A score of more then two on one question is defined by this scale as ‘significant’ abuse.

Dr Cooper added: “This is the first representative survey to ask family carers about abuse. It shows that abusive behaviour towards people with dementia from family carers is common according to the scale used, with a third reporting ‘significant’ levels of abuse, and half some abusive behaviour. We found few cases of physical or frequent abuse, although those with the most abusive behaviour may have been reluctant to report it, or take part in the study in the first place.”

Co-author Professor Gill Livingston added: “Our findings suggest that any strategy for safeguarding vulnerable adults must be directed towards families who provide the majority of care for older people, rather than exclusively at paid carers. The UK government is currently revising its policy in this area, but unfortunately their review is entirely focused on preventing abuse by paid carers, suggesting that abuse is confined to the formal care system whereas our research suggests this is not the case.

“The vast majority of family carers do a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances and although levels of minor abuse seem high according to the scale used, there may need to be a redefinition. Healthcare professionals can be reluctant to ask about abuse by family carers, but this attitude can be very unhelpful to carers who are worried about their own actions and want to talk about them and get help. Considering elder abuse as a spectrum of behaviours rather than an “all or nothing” phenomenon could help professionals to ask about it and therefore offer assistance.”

Ruth Metcalfe | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>