Elder Abuse: Terminology, detection and prevention among older Australian women living with and without dementia
Study 1 (“Believe me I’m awake”: dementia and the propositional density of written language among older women in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH).) Synopsis: Women living with dementia can be supposed to have lost capacity to control life choices: living arrangements, activities, medical treatments, and management of assets. With an increasing focus on abuse of the human rights of older people, suggested protective solutions include capacity assessment and documented planning for future decisions. This study examines the written language of older women 1) with no dementia, 2) with a confirmed diagnosis of dementia and 3) with dementia diagnosed within 3 years (lagged diagnosis) via external linked data, using propositional density (a linguistic measure) as a marker of cognitive decline. Propositional density has been identified as a measure sensitive to cognitive decline in other studies of older age. This new knowledge is clinically useful, and may lead to a new direction in the development of more sensitive capacity assessment tools and earlier detection of dementia, which will allow for proactive medical intervention as well as life planning.
Study 2 (The terminology of elder abuse among older Australian women, living with and without dementia) Synopsis: Accurate detection is fundamental to addressing elder abuse. Globally, women have a higher likelihood of experiencing elder abuse than men, and are more likely to report it, but they may not use direct terminology like “abuse”. Dementia, a risk factor for abuse, may further inhibit women from overtly reporting. This study will qualitatively examine the terminology of abuse among older women, including those living with dementia, from written comments in the ALSWH. It will also examine their responses on survey items relating to abuse and vulnerability to abuse. Findings will contribute to the evaluation of current methods of elder abuse detection for older women living with and without dementia, and inform possible education programs for health professionals and others working with older women.