News Release

Intervention for caregivers helps prevent elder mistreatment

Peer-Reviewed Publication


An educational and social support intervention for caregivers reduced elder mistreatment of older adults with chronic illness, including dementia. That’s the result of a recent double-blind, randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Elder mistreatment is defined as “an intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.” Through the Comprehensive Older Adult and Caregiver Help (COACH) intervention tested in this trial, coaches met with caregivers weekly for up to 12 sessions to listen to their concerns and guide them through a personally tailored behavioral and educational intervention. Participants were provided with caregiving tools and coping strategies and were also educated about mistreatment so they could be vigilant against abusive behaviors by themselves and others. Eighty caregivers were randomized to the COACH intervention or a control group.

Treatment group caregivers reported less mistreatment against their care recipient, which dropped from 22.5% at baseline to 0% following the completion of the 3-month intervention. In the control group, reported rates did not change significantly.

“COACH was created to benefit older adults who rely on a caregiver and are particularly vulnerable to harm. It now stands out as the first intervention that has been shown to prevent elder mistreatment,” said corresponding author Zach Gassoumis, PhD, of the University of Southern California. “Our study provides initial evidence that COACH may be immensely successful, and a potential lifeline for the millions of older adults who experience abusive behavior each year.”

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Additional Information
The information contained in this release is protected by copyright. Please include journal attribution in all coverage. For more information or to obtain a PDF of any study, please contact: Sara Henning-Stout,

About the Journal
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is the go-to journal for clinical aging research. We provide a diverse, interprofessional community of healthcare professionals with the latest insights on geriatrics education, clinical practice, and public policy—all supporting the high-quality, person-centered care essential to our well-being as we age.

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