Elder Abuse


Elder Abuse, Neglect,and Self-Neglect

Elder Abuse and Neglect Intervention for Limited English Speaking Elderly
The identification, interpretation for and intervention of elder abuse and neglect program has expanded to include cases of self-neglect. Ethnic agencies staff work to protect the older person and maintain their dignity and rightful place in the family.  They provide services to help the older person and the whole family.

Elder Abuse and Neglect in Ethnic Communities

  • Abuse is most often emotional in nature, sometimes is also neglect
  • Problems can come from immigration adjustment
  • Abusers are adult children – often in-law children
  • Can be devastating to the older person to have family problems – they are dependent on the family for everything
  • Denial of problem is personal and cultural

For example:

In China . . .

  • Everyone in China has a job
  • Hospitals and doctors are nearby
  • The social support system is strong
  • The group is more important than the individual

Family Dynamics in China

  • In China, the family honors and respects the elder
  • Adult children are responsible for their parents by law
  • The elderly generation has the resources – house and money
  • Younger generation lives with the son’s parents

After immigration

  • Here, society provides enough services to help – families do not feel responsible
  • But, elderly can’t use mainstream services
  • Parents are seen as old and useless
  • Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are not understood

Another example:

Family Dynamics in India
Strong obligation in the culture to care for elderly parents
No concept of yours and mine – everything belongs to the family
Whole community helps to care for the parents

More on families . . .

  • Doctors make home visits
  • Elderly live with son and his wife
  • Many women do not work outside the home
  • Even middle-classes have servants

After immigration . . .

  • Here, daughters-in-law do not have time – they have professional careers
  • They do not feel the same obligation
  • They may be resentful of parents’ demands
  • Families are isolated
  • Language and transportation barriers keep elderly isolated

More on immigration

  • Son-in-law is often a problem – he would never have in-laws living in his home back home
  • Families disintegrate as everyone tries to be independent
  • Families hide their problems


Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE)
53 West Jackson, Suite 1340
Chicago, IL 60604
312-461-0812  /  312-461-1466 (fax)