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The Elderly Abuse Epidemic in the United States

  • Category: Health
  • Subcategory: Aging
  • Topic: Elder Abuse
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 1144
  • Published: 26 October 2018
  • Downloads: 59
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The purpose of this paper is to analyze elder abuse. There will be discussions revolving around this theme. Diving into the definition of elder abuse will be a big part of discovering the epidemic here in the United States. Additional information will be elaborated on including what type of people do this. The most prevalent types of abuse is a crucial element. Looking into what factors might contribute to possible abuse will be researched. Potential resources will be looked into including what the law requires. Reasons for the persistent lack of report is important. Peer reviewed articles will be used to expand on the subject and shed light on elder abuse. These articles will be integrated into a comprehensive report to inform and raise awareness on this topic.

Elder abuse is an epidemic that is flooding the nation. Since there are often times when incidents do not get reported, accurate numbers are hard to distinguish. The estimate number of incidents include approximately 1 in 10 older Americans who are 65 or older. Since this astounding number of 4.3 million older people are estimated to be abused, awareness needs to be spread. (Roberto, 2016). Most of the time this abuse or neglect is by the people who are closest to them, and the abuse can occur in various ways. The main types of elder abuse is through physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, self-neglect, abandonment, and financial/material exploitation (APA, 2013). Investigation on prevalence, definition of elder abuse, demographics of perpetrators, risk factors, resources, and reason for lack of report is extremely important.

There are different ways that could constitute abuse towards an elder. Some people do not know what constitutes abuse. Financial or material exploitation is the most common, and happens by the people they trust most. This is when unethical or illegal use occurs with an elder’s property, money, or assets. Family members are often perpetrators in this regard because they fight over money or items owned by their loved one. There is also physical abuse which is something that many people hear about happening to the elderly. This includes anything that physically hurts the elderly person. Sometimes physical force causes injury, pain, impairment. Physical harm usually happens when caregivers are frustrated with the elder. This frustration could be malicious or accidental, but needs to be addressed either way. This type of abuse could happen due to many things such as the elder being hard to move, combative behavior, rebellion due to cognition, or even due to burn-out of caregiving (Hardin & Khan-Hudson, 2005).

In addition, sexual abuse is something that occurs more often than people might think. Sexual abuse often happens when strangers come into the private home, or they are staying at a residential living facility. There are certain people who have this psychopathological profile like mother issues. Abandonment is a problem when it comes to the elder’s caregivers display pure desertion of the elder. Elders can be left alone for a long period of time and not receive the needed care to stay healthy. The individual who has physical custody of the elder is responsible for making sure this abandonment does not occur (APA, 2013).

Emotional abuse can occur without being noticed by the person doing it, or it can be intentional harm. This type of abuse is through verbal or non-verbal acts. The perpetrator will cause pain or anguish that can be very distressing. This can occur through caregivers calling names, degrading statements, or even threats. Neglect and self-neglect happens when obligations are not met. When caregivers are involved, there is a refusal or failure to give the person what they need and tend to their needs. Sometimes an elderly person can behave in a way that threatens their health or safety and can be self-inflicted (APA, 2013).

The demographics of elder abusers is unfortunate. The victims are more often females. Males are often more likely to be the perpetrators. The number one offenders are usually the elder’s adult children. Usually the abuse is from the elder’s children, other family members, spouses. There is often times when family members cannot fully care for their elderly close ones at home. When this occurs, they must go to hospitals, convalescent homes, and board-and-care homes. Abuse also has been increasingly exposed at these different types of facilities. The number of elder’s needing care is increasing and this abuse is not getting reported nearly as much as it occurs (Hardin & Khan-Hudson, 2005).

Certain risk factors are involved when looking at potential abuse for an elderly person. Cognitive impairment is arguable the biggest risk factor due to the elder’s lack of remembering the incident, or the person who they tell does not believe the abuse occurred. Social support can be a risk factor because many times older individuals do not have many people to depend on. The elder is less likely to report something when it is their loved one. Elders are statistically more likely to report abuse if it is a stranger that they don’t know. National data shows that ethnicity has no bearing on the risk of elder abuse. The likelihood of abuse arises when race and ethnicity coincide with other factors such as socioeconomic status, tolerance for violence, cultural norms, and beliefs (Roberto, 2016).

There are steps that are put in place to help the elderly, however; it is extremely under reported. There are certain reasons why elder abuse goes so unreported. Some elders are simply embarrassed and do not want to reach out. Individuals will often not understand what abuse is and that they are in that predicament, or will believe that the abuse is something that must be tolerated. The elder sometimes believes it is their fault, similarly to victims in other circumstances. The worry of the perpetrator harming them more is a factor along with fear of being put in a home (Roberto, 2016).

There are certain resources to try and help this problem. When this gets reported, the Adult Protective Services people come to investigate which is similar to Child Protective Services. These people look into the circumstances involved and determine if it is a safe environment for the elder. There is also a program called ACT against violence. This program teaches adults to express their frustration in a constructive manner. This ultimately teaches anger management skills to hopefully facilitate violence prevention. Learning how to express their anger in healthy ways makes a difference when problems arise (Mellor, McCabe, Rizzuto, & Gruner, 2015).

Elder abuse is something that is often pushed under the rug and not talked about. This silence on elder violence is important to be aware of in order to make sure these people are protected. Since there are so many different kinds of abuse, awareness is crucial in being able to stop this abuse before it happens. Hopefully, psychoeducation, regulations, and prevention programs will make sure these individuals are protected.

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