The Elder Abuse Suspicion Index© (EASI) is a copyrighted tool developed for family doctors to perform quick and easy (pun intended) triage of possible elder abuse or neglect among their aging patients. The entire process takes only about 2 minutes. There are misconceptions about EASI. Therefore, it is useful to explore unpacking the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index.
Since EASI is copyrighted, we will not provide the text in this article. However, the topics it covers include:
- Whether the senior depends on others to help with personal care or independent living;
- Whether someone denies the senior access to any necessities, medical care, or visitors;
- Whether anyone verbally threatened the aging adult or made her feel ashamed;
- Whether anyone has tried to exploit the elder financially;
- Whether the senior has suffered physical or sexual abuse or the fear of abuse;
- Whether the family physician has noticed specified markers of possible neglect or abuse;
The family physician completes the questionnaire, by asking the elderly patient the first five questions. The doctor answers number six. If there are any red flags, the doctor should decide about contacting social services or Adult Protective Services for an evaluation.
Misinformation about the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index
Some organizations incorrectly advise that a YES answer to any one of the six questions should raise the doctor’s suspicion of abuse. In reality, question number one merely indicates a senior’s possible vulnerability. It asks if the senior has relied on others for bathing, meals, dressing, shopping or banking. Many seniors rely on others for these things, without experiencing abuse or neglect.
If a YES answer to question one indicated suspicion of abuse, then every aging adult in assisted living or who is homebound would raise suspicion of abuse. The correct instructions state that a YES response to any of questions 2 through 6 may indicate a situation in which the family physician might have a concern about abuse.
Limitations of EASI
EASI is not appropriate for use with all elderly patients. The meaningful use of this triage tool requires a cognitively active patient. If the senior cannot understand the questions, assess his condition and accurately communicate his responses, the tool will not garner useful information.
Some social workers criticize the simplicity of EASI, faulting it for leaving out many risk factors of elder abuse. EASI’s developers respond that they felt physicians would be more likely to use an assessment tool that was not burdensome. Even the critics of EASI acknowledge that it is a user-friendly tool that has raised awareness of elder abuse.
EASI is Now Available in More Languages
EASI is now available in 10 linguistic versions, with more likely to follow. The languages are the original French and English ( since a Canadian grant funded EASI’s creation), and also Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Italian, Romanian and Chinese.
The laws affecting the safety and protection of seniors are different in every state. To learn how to help your aging loved ones, talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
McGill University Department of Family Medicine. “Elder Abuse Suspicion Index© (EASI).” (accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.mcgill.ca/familymed/research/projects/elder
NCAAACT.org. “Elder Abuse Suspicion Index© (EASI)” (accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.ncaaact.org/downloads/Elder_abuse_suspicion_index_tool_2014.pdf
Findlaw. “What is the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index?” (accessed September 6, 2017) http://elder.findlaw.com/elder-abuse/what-is-the-elder-abuse-suspicion-index-easi.html
Journal of Clinical Outcomes. “Screening Tools for the Identification of Elder Abuse.” (accessed September 6, 2017) http://turner-white.com/pdf/jcom_jun11_abuse.pdf