Elder Abuse pp 21-41 | Cite as

Theorizing Elder Abuse

  • Karen A. RobertoEmail author
  • Pamela B. Teaster


Development and identification of the theoretical underpinnings of elder abuse research and practice has lagged behind the empirical output. Without well-articulated theories, the processes and dynamics of elder abuse and the influence that outcomes of abuse have on the quality of older adults’ lives and the lives of affected others cannot be explored or explained adequately. To address the importance of theory and theorizing for enhancing the study of elder abuse, we draw upon multiple literatures including key theories from the child abuse and intimate partner violence literature as well as broader theoretical perspectives and models that have the potential to inform work on elder abuse. We then propose and explain a new approach for theorizing about elder abuse, The Contextual Theory of Elder Abuse. We conclude the chapter by highlighting opportunities for continued development and use of theory in future elder abuse research and practice.


Context of abuse Elderly Mistreatment Older adults Theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for GerontologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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