The Public Interest

Elder abuse: the latest “crisis”

Stephen Crystal

Summer 1987

IN 1979, the House Select Committee on Aging held hearings on abuse of the elderly by their families, which it titled, “The Hidden Problem.” Several of the witnesses observed that while child abuse was “discovered” in the 1960s and spouse abuse in the 1970s, elder abuse would be discovered in the 1980s. They turned out to be largely correct. During the early 1980s, while few reliable data on the subject were generated, political and professional attention to elder abuse was substantial, with new legislation enacted in a majority of states.

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