In most developed nations, declines in fertility, improved health and dramatic increases in life expectancy have generated growing numbers and proportions of older people. Such social change challenges existing social priorities concerning the individual, family and social lives. The aging of the population is a global phenomenon, even if its pace varies in diﬀerent countries (Kinsella 2000). Aging aﬀects all age groups and there are critical interdependencies between family generations along diﬀerent stages of the individual and familial life course (Hagestad 2003). This phenomenon of global aging poses challenges to families, organizations and states (Lowenstein 2005). Greater longevity also causes a secondary aging process – an increase in the number of disabled elderly who might need more care and support. Older dependency rates rise substantially and increasingly there will be fewer adults to care for a growing number of older persons. This adds burdens to families and welfare states, which are the two major pillars of support in old age, particularly in the face of constraints in welfare state spending (Daatland and Lowenstein 2005, Silverstein et al. 2006). The situation becomes even more complicated in view of changing family structures that impact on intergenerational family relations and the willingness and ability of families to support their aging family members. Additionally, the increase in labor force participation of women, who are still the traditional caregivers, puts further constraints on families abilities to care for frail older family members. The post-modern approach to the study of families in changing social
realities challenges us to rethink concepts of social solidarity, obligation, and mutuality between generations. In particular, the physical, mental and ﬁnancial vulnerability and dependency of many seniors, compared to younger adults, continue to give rise to concerns over the risk of abuse and neglect that older populations may face. An increasing stress on family members caring for older adults may result in rising levels of abuse and neglect. The unique character of Israeli society, especially its Jewish and Muslim
traditional familial values, contributed to the fact that until the late 1980s and early 1990s very little attention has been paid to elder abuse and neglect.
Public opinion as well as the political and scientiﬁc view was that Israel was unique in its positive attitudes toward the aged, and that the phenomenon of elder abuse or neglect did not exist. This “idealistic” picture of Israel as an “elder-abuse-free society” was shattered in the 1990s by academic research. In the wake of studies conducted by Lowenstein and Ron (1995, 2000b), Sharon and Zoabi (1997) and others, awareness has been raised among researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to the phenomenon of family violence in general, and elder abuse and neglect in particular. Thus, elder abuse has become more of a major concern as it has major consequences for the well-being and physical health of the older population. The family itself was found to be a major source of elder abuse, which often arises out of the tension in response to the burdens in caring for the elderly and their well-being is also a major concern (Myres-JDC-Brookdale Institute 2011). Since the revelation of the phenomenon about two decades ago, Israel has
been characterized by swift transitions and dynamic changes regarding elder abuse and neglect. Research, policies, legislation, and social interventions have ﬂourished, especially during the past decade. The phenomenon has moved to the forefront of public and political awareness. The major aim of this chapter is to review and discuss the advances in
research, legislation, policies and practice which are geared to meet the needs of abused and neglected elderly and their families in Israel. Accordingly, the chapter presents the following: