Since ﬁrst identiﬁed more than forty years ago as a social and health problem, elder abuse, like other forms of violence, has been recognized as a public health and human rights issue and a criminal justice concern. Elder abuse has become a worldwide phenomenon and the discrimination and mistreatment of older persons and its nature as a hidden problem is no longer something unusual. Consequently elder abuse is acknowledged as an issue in most Latin American countries. The concept of elder abuse, as such, is now emerging markedly inﬂuenced
by the rapidity of socio-economical change, weakening of the extended family, rising of elderly populations and growing concern for human rights, equality and justice. It crosses legal, ethical and health care domains within society’s major institutions, making it a complex issue with moral, sociocultural, political, and personal ramiﬁcations. However, today, concern about elder abuse has driven a worldwide eﬀort to increase awareness of the problem and encourage development of prevention and intervention programs. Such foci are predicated on the belief that elders are entitled to live out their advancing years in peace, dignity, good health, and security. Daichman et al. (2002) suggested that structural inequalities in both the
developed and developing countries have resulted in low wages, high unemployment, poor health services, gender discrimination and a lack of educational opportunities. In particular this has contributed to the vulnerability of older persons. For elders in the developing world the risk of communicable diseases still exists and environmental hazards present yet another threat. Increasingly, older people in Latin America will be subject to the long-term, incurable and often disabling diseases associated with old age in the developed countries. Neglect and abuse are culturally deﬁned phenomena which reﬂect distinctions
between acceptable and unacceptable interpersonal behaviors. These distinctions denote moral values, standards and conduct. The perceptions of unacceptable behaviors, cultural norms and moral standards can vary within complex societies. Therefore it is necessary to examine elder abuse and
neglect from diﬀerent perspectives in order to understand the meaning of these phenomena. It is also essential that the societal descriptions, norms and laws are sensitive to the various groups they are intended to serve (Hudson 1998). There are abundant myths and stereotypes associated with older people
which, combined with the lack of knowledge about the violence phenomena generally, and elder abuse speciﬁcally, hinder recognition of the abuse. While the developed countries have emphasized individual and family attributes as predictors of elder mistreatment, the developing nations have given more weight to societal and cultural factors. Societal factors are currently considered important as risk factors for elder
abuse all over the world; cultural norms and traditions such as ageism, sexism and a culture of violence are also now recognized as playing an important underlying role. Developing nations have given more weight to societal and cultural factors such as the inheritance systems and land rights, social construction of gender, rural-urban migration, and a loss of tradition rituals and arbitration roles of elders within the family through the modernization process (Wolf et al. 2003).