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Abused older people at increased risk of premature death

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Older people who suffer abuse or self-neglect have a significantly greater risk of premature death than other older adults, latest research suggests.

US researchers studied 9,318 people, aged 65 and over, 1,657 of whom had a report of self-neglect or abuse submitted to social services during the 12-year study period.

They found that elder abuse was associated with a more than two-fold increased risk of premature death from all causes, and an almost four-fold increased risk of premature death from heart disease.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that older people who suffered self-neglect were five times as likely as those who did not to die prematurely from all causes, and eight times as likely to die from heart disease.

‘Our findings demonstrate the dire health consequences for these vulnerable older adults,’ said lead study author Dr XinQi Dong, a geriatrician at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago.

‘Health care professionals and others who serve the elderly need to identify and report suspected cases of abuse or self-neglect early and act quickly to ameliorate the problems,’ he added.

In the first year after self-neglecting behaviour was identified, older people that suffered self-neglect were five times a likely as those who did not to die prematurely from all causes, and eight times as likely to die from heart disease, the researchers added.

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