Australian researchers have called for additional services for survivors of intimate partner violence, warning those who have these experiences are more vulnerable to elder abuse.
Women who survive domestic violence continue to experience negative effects well into their older years but they are also more vulnerable to elder abuse, says Flinders University researcher Dr Monica Cations.
She is the lead author of a study, looking at the impact of historical intimate partner violence on psychological wellbeing and vulnerability to elder abuse in older women published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
"This is the first time this relationship has been demonstrated and tells us that older survivors need close monitoring and prevention efforts to keep them safe from further abuse," said Dr Cations.
The study looked at the psychological and physical impacts and risk for elder abuse associated with historical domestic (intimate partner) violence in older women.
It examined data of more than 12,000 women aged 70-75 from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH).
The ALSWH is a globally-significant study tracking four generations of more than 57,000 women to explore a range of health outcomes.
In all, 792 or 6.4 per cent of the cohort reported they had survived domestic violence in their past and have had significantly poorer psychological wellbeing throughout their older age than women who had never experienced intimate partner violence (IPV).
Dr Cations said this highlighted the need for clinical monitoring and ongoing support for survivors as they age.
"Women who survive domestic violence can continue to be socially isolated and financially dependent on others, and these factors can make them easy targets for elder abuse," Dr Cations said.
"Both domestic violence and aged care services need to be aware of the ongoing vulnerability of survivors. Elder abuse prevention efforts can be targeted to help keep domestic violence survivors safe," she said.
ALSWH Deputy Director Professor Deborah Loxton, from the University of Newcastle, and UniSA Associate Professor Hannah Keage collaborated on the study.
The study, 'Impact of historical intimate partner violence on psychological wellbeing and vulnerability to elder abuse in older women' (2021) was published online in American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.