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Tackling elder abuse

Neglect accounts for as many as 80 per­cent of the cases of elder mis­treat­ment, according to studies con­ducted in emer­gency rooms and pri­mary care set­tings by Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences.

Fulmer — a nation­ally known expert in geri­atrics who was elected to the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine in 2010 — shared her research find­ings with more than two-​​dozen stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff at the semester’s first Fac­ulty Works-​​in-​​Progress Col­lo­quium Series on Monday in Meserve Hall. The series — which fea­tures inspi­ra­tional dis­cus­sions with Northeastern’s leading scholars and dis­tin­guished vis­i­tors — is spon­sored by the North­eastern Human­i­ties Center in con­junc­tion with the Dean’s Office in the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties.

Fulmer’s next research project will focus on inter­ven­tion strate­gies to reduce elder mis­treat­ment and neglect. “There is not an inter­ven­tion study going on in the United States right now and that’s a problem,” she said.

The best way to reduce cases of neglect, Fulmer noted, is through a com­bi­na­tion of empow­er­ment and self-​​management.

She plans to explore ways to help patients iden­tify neglect by asking them to con­sider what care they are not receiving — such as get­ting enough water or taking reg­ular trips to the restroom — and then cue them to remind their care­givers of these needs.

“You don’t want to catch it,” Fulmer explained. “You want to pre­vent it.”

Georges Van Den Abbeele, founding dean of the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties, wel­comed atten­dees to the lec­ture.  Fulmer, he said, “brings real exper­tise in ques­tions of health care for the elderly.”

For her part, Fulmer plans to col­lab­o­rate with fac­ulty in the human­i­ties and social sci­ences on future research projects. “There are so many nat­ural alliances when you think about the research that we do,” she said.

– by Lauren Dibble

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