Both elder self-neglect and abuse have become increasingly prominent public health issues. The association of either elder self-neglect or abuse with mortality remains unclear.
To examine the relationship of elder self-neglect or abuse reported to social services agencies with all-cause mortality among a community-dwelling elderly population.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Prospective, population-based cohort study (conducted from 1993 to 2005) of residents living in a geographically defined community of 3 adjacent neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois, who were participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP; a longitudinal, population-based, epidemiological study of residents aged ≥65 years). A subset of these participants had suspected elder self-neglect or abuse reported to social services agencies.
Main Outcome Measures
Mortality ascertained during follow-up and by use of the National Death Index. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess independent associations of self-neglect or elder abuse reporting with the risk of all-cause mortality using time-varying covariate analyses.
Of 9318 CHAP participants, 1544 participants were reported for elder self-neglect and 113 participants were reported for elder abuse from 1993 to 2005. All CHAP participants were followed up for a median of 6.9 years (interquartile range, 7.4 years), during which 4306 deaths occurred. In multivariable analyses, reported elder self-neglect was associated with a significantly increased risk of 1-year mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 5.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.20–6.51). Mortality risk was lower but still elevated after 1 year (HR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.67–2.14). Reported elder abuse also was associated with significantly increased risk of overall mortality (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.07–1.84). Confirmed elder self-neglect or abuse also was associated with mortality. Increased mortality risks associated with either elder self-neglect or abuse were not restricted to those with the lowest levels of cognitive or physical function.
Both elder self-neglect and abuse reported to social services agencies were associated with increased risk of mortality.