Lead author Lee Friedman of the University of Illinois at Chicago said the study found victims of severe traumatic elder abuse also are more likely to be female and suffer from a neurological or mental disorder such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
"Past studies have shown that alcohol abuse by the perpetrator plays a substantial role and is strongly associated with physical abuse," Friedman said in a statement. "Our findings indicate that alcohol abuse among the victims may be an important contributing factor as well."
Friedman and colleagues examined data from medical records of two Chicago-area Level I trauma units from 41 cases of elder abuse and compared them with a random set of patients age 60 and older from 1999 to 2006.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found 29 percent of abuse victims in the study tested positive for alcohol compared with 13 percent of controls and that elderly victims of physical abuse suffered disproportionately from heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, mental illness and alcohol abuse.