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The ageing process in older adults’ narratives of family violence

Ana João Santos (Instituto Nacional de Saude Doutor Ricardo Jorge IP, Lisbon, Portugal) (Universidade do Porto Instituto de Ciencias Biomedicas Abel Salazar, Porto, Portugal)
Ana Paula Gil (Universidade Nova de Lisboa Centro Interdisciplinar de Ciencias Sociais, Lisbon, Portugal)
Oscar Ribeiro (Centro de Investigacao em Tecnologias e Servicos de Saude, Porto, Portugal) (Universidade de Aveiro Departamento de Educacao e Psicologia, Aveiro, Portugal)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 7 June 2019

Issue publication date: 11 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine, through a qualitative lens, how community elder abuse and the ageing process are represented in the older adults’ narratives reporting abuse perpetrated by family members.


A qualitative study of a convenience sample of 22 interviews from 24 older adults (two couples) aged 60 years or older who had experienced one or more types of abuse and had sought help about the victimisation experience. A general inductive approach of thematic content analysis was employed.


The four main emergent themes related to the passage of time or the perception of becoming old within the process of abuse were: abuse grown old, abuse after entering later life, vulnerability to abuse and responses to abuse. Ageing was found to be associated with an increase vulnerability to abuse and an important element in shaping how older adults experience, report and cope with victimization. The social and contextual issues of being older also influenced the decision of ending (or not) the abuse and the victims’ repertoire of responses.


Despite the little suitability of chronological age to define and delimit elder abuse, understanding the phenomenon demands the recognition of ageing (both as a process and as a product) in order to more accurately identify aetiology processes and develop interventions.



Santos, A.J., Gil, A.P. and Ribeiro, O. (2019), "The ageing process in older adults’ narratives of family violence", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 56-66.



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