Perpetrators of Elder Abuse
The National Research Council defines elder abuse and mistreatment as:
- intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder, or
- failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder's basic needs or to protect the elder from harm."
NIJ has funded two studies that identify characteristics of those caregivers who perpetrate elder mistreatment.
In a court-based study of abused women in Rhode Island over the age of 50, researchers reviewed court records — cases in which the perpetrator has been prosecuted for a crime — and found that: 
- Nearly half of the suspects had a prior criminal history on record in the state.
- Over a quarter had a prior court case for domestic violence.
- Two in ten had a prior record for a drug- or alcohol-related event.
- Fourteen percent had a prior case for a crime against person (non-domestic).
- Sixteen percent had been sentenced to prison for a prior charge.
In a telephone survey of nearly 6,000 elderly individuals, victims of elder physical mistreatment reported that: 
- A majority (57 percent) of perpetrators of physical abuse were partners or spouses.
- Half of perpetrators were using drugs or alcohol at the time of the mistreatment.
- Three in ten perpetrators had a history of mental illness.
- Over a third of perpetrators were unemployed.
- Four in ten perpetrators were socially isolated.
 Klein, A., T. Tobin, A. Salomon, and J. Dubois. A Statewide Profile of Abuse of Older Women and the Criminal Justice Response (pdf, 94 pages), Final Grant Report to the National Institute of Justice, March 2008, NCJ 222459.
 Acierno R., M. Hernandez-Tejada, W. Muzzy, K. Steve. National Elder Mistreatment Study (pdf, 183 pages), NCJ 226456, March 2008, Grant Report.