Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Teaching & Learning


Previous elder abuse research has focused much of its efforts on Caucasian populations, leaving a dearth of information for minorities. A particularly overlooked population has been American Indian and Alaska Native populations in the United States. Very few studies have been done on Native populations to assess incidence, types of abuse, and how elder abuse is managed. In June of 2004, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) released the findings of its study on elder abuse in Indian Country, Preventing and Responding to Abuse of Elders in Indian Country. Prior to this writing, only three of the 567 federally recognized tribes and one urban population had undergone studies addressing the issue.

Literature review o f elder abuse as it relates to Native American populations indicated little additional research beyond the NICOA publications. Reviews on existing tribal codes directed at elder mistreatment and adult protection were also conducted.

During the 2004 NICOA National conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, surveys were given to Native American elders aged 55 and over. The surveys assessed general health status, mental health status, health risk behavior, and perceptions of various forms of elder abuse. A total of 470 surveys and consent forms were completed over a span of eight hours.

Data from the surveys was entered into the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 13.0. Descriptive analysis showed very high female representation. Individuals aged 65-69 were the largest age cohort represented, with most participants living on a reservation or Native village. The type of abuse eliciting the most concern from respondents was neglect, followed by emotional abuse, exploitation, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.

Cross tabulation analysis showed a direct relationship between levels of depression and concern for abuse. Those individuals with high depression levels indicated high concern for elder abuse in their communities. Those with moderate levels of depression indicated moderate concern for abuse, and those with low or no depression indicated low concern for elder abuse.