Almost one in five elderly Israelis suffers from some form of abuse, a new study has found.

Among the elderly, around 16 percent suffer from physical and psychological abuse or financial exploitation, the University of Haifa study found. In the majority of cases the people responsible were family members serving as caregivers.

During the course of the study, released on March 2, researchers questioned more than 1,300 people over the age of 60 from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

The researchers speculate that the number of abused elderly is actually higher than the number reported in the study, which did not include people living in governmental and private geriatric institutions or in assisted living facilities.

This data is of particular concern, since the growth rate of Israel’s elderly population is among the highest in the Western world and is continuing to rise, according to statistics collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2009, 9.8% of the Israeli population was 65 years old and over, according to those statistics, with the number expected to reach 14% by 2030.

According to the researchers, abuse of the elderly has been recognized as a widespread problem only in the last decade. Despite growing awareness, screening tools to identify senior citizens at risk are still limited, and the study aims to help develop new ways to detect abuse.