Objectives: Empirical evidence about the heightened risks of elder abuse and age discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic is scarce. This study aimed to track the changes in rates of both, and investigated their associated factors in the community-dwelling older population in Hong Kong.
Methods: In this two-wave, cross-sectional telephone survey, we interviewed a population-based sample of individuals (≥55 years), and captured the situation of elder abuse and age discrimination before the COVID-19 outbreak (n = 1209, Wave 1: October-December 2019) and during the pandemic (n = 891, Wave 2: December 2020-January 2021). Participants reported their experiences of different types of abuse and discrimination, financial health, subjective well-being, satisfaction with environment, health and social services, and resilience.
Results: Abuse was reported by 20.2% of the sample before the outbreak and 17.8% during the pandemic; while discrimination was reported by 24.6% and 29.8% at the two time points, respectively. A drop in physical abuse was observed, but it was accompanied by a rise in discrimination in the form of harassment or refusal of services. Findings of logistic regression analysis show that abuse during the pandemic was associated with younger age, poorer subjective well-being, and lower resilience; while discrimination was associated with female gender, being married, and poorer subjective well-being.
Conclusions: Elder abuse and discrimination were prevalent across time points. The pandemic has highlighted the marginalization of older persons in our communities. There is an urgent need for development of effective interventions to end abuse and discrimination.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- elder abuse
- older persons