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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

9 - Elder abuse and bullying: exploring theoretical and empirical connections


Adults aged 65 years and older represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the population in Western countries. It has been suggested that, with the increasing population of older adults, enhanced dependency and care-giving responsibilities there will likely occur a concomitant rise in all forms of violence against older adults (Fulmer et al., 2000; Glendenning, 1997). Over the course of the past three decades, the maltreatment of older adults has been increasingly examined, although there is a paucity of research on bullying in this population. This chapter offers theoretical explanations and reviews current information regarding the nature and scope of elder abuse and how bullying might be conceptualised within this framework. The chapter concludes with directions for further research.

Definitions of bullying and elder abuse

In reviewing the literature, information on bullying of older adults is absent. A small body of research focuses on bullying of adults within the workplace (i.e. Gabrielle et al., 2008), offering little insight into the nature of bullying among older adults in other contexts. In this chapter, elder bullying will be conceptualised within the typology of interpersonal violence developed in 2004 by the World Health Organization (2004) as ‘violence between family members and intimate partners and violence between acquaintances and strangers that is not intended to further the aims of any formally defined group or cause’ (p. x).

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