Elder Abuse Research
Elder abuse is a phenomenon that occurs in various settings; within the home setting or outside the home setting and may go unnoticed for a long while. Those who mistreat the elderly are usually close to the person or strangers. Elder abuse occurs when an individual who is in a trusting relationship with an elderly person intentionally refuses to act in an appropriate manner or acts in a manner causing harm to an elderly person (WHO, 1). Elder abuse has several forms; there can be financial, sexual, psychological, physical, neglect and emotional elder abuse. A person suffering from elder abuse can be identified using specific indicators. Families may experience some strain in lifestyle adjustments that may include inputting more money to care for their parents which may cause them to abuse the elderly.
Having marital issues that run for long periods even up to old age leads to a spouse abusing an elderly spouse. At times abuse occurs as a continuation from previous abuse situations way before a person gets elderly. Some people turn their hate and rage towards a person who may have mistreated them when they were younger; since the person who mistreated them has become elderly they may see this as an opportunity to revenge the acts they had to endure (American Psychological Association, 8). Neglect of an elderly person may occur if there is lack of adequate time to care for the needs of an elderly person. An individual who lives with a person under substance abuse has an increased risk factor towards abuse.
Within relationship grounds; if an elderly person is dependent on a person financially and causing some strain to finances they are at a higher risk of being abused, if the elderly person had a poor relationship with those caring for them they have an increased risk of abuse. Within community setups there are factors that may lead to abuse of elders; there is lack of support for those caring for elderly within the community leading to their mistreatment when the care givers feel overwhelmed. Generally elderly people are isolated because of their reduced physical abilities or mental capacity, one may see this as too hard a task to handle leading to their abuse. Some cultures and social settings have rules or norms that may promote elder abuse.
al. An elderly person may be subjected to constant verbal insults, humiliation due to their condition, intimidation by the care giver or isolation from the society. A person suffering psychological abuse may become withdrawn due to the abuse and lack communication. They may seem always agitated, angry or upset. Their behavior may even border that of a person suffering from dementia. Elderly people can be raped, experience sexual photography where photos of their nudity are taken without their consent, they can be forced to watch phonographic movies or forced to exhibit sexual behaviors. An elderly person experiencing sexual abuse may have STD’s and genital infections that are unexplainable, bruises in genital areas, bleeding from genital areas or the anus or they may report being sexually abused.
Elderly people may experience neglect; it may be self-neglect or neglect by the care giver. Neglect occurs when a person does not get their care obligations fulfilled. A care giver can fail to meet the needs of an elderly person physically, socially or emotionally by lack of provision of food, clothing, water, medication or refusal to assist them with their personal hygiene (American Psychological Association, 5). Elderly people who ae abused go through a lot of emotional distress leading to depression, psychological distress, anxiety and post-traumatic stress (Krug et. al. The victims develop mental disorders which in turn may lead other health difficulties such as heart problems, chest pains, and high blood pressure or panic attacks making the life of an elderly person unbearable.
The elderly may develop learned Helplessness which may lead to them acting like they are unable to do anything and neglecting self-care completely. Elderly people are frail physically and having continuous physical abuse may lead to broken bones; having the injuries accumulate overtime may cause death for the victim. Physical and sexual abuse leads to injuries which in turn lead to unnecessary medical costs to treat illnesses that could have been avoided with proper care of the elderly. Elderly abuse does not only affect the victim but the society as a whole. A person who witnesses elder abuse occurring will have some effects such as influence to their behavior. The negative effects to behavior may be the child or person perceiving disrespect towards elderly as a norm and in turn disrespecting those older than them.
A person who witnesses abuse may also undergo some depression or anxiety as being in such an environment may be toxic to their development. Education and creation of awareness about elderly abuse can aid with prevention of abuse (American Psychological Association, 14). People can be educated about elder abuse and its effects through various sources such as media platforms and school set ups. Teaching people about elder abuse early will reduce chances of them being participants in abusing an elder and may help them have the confidence to report cases of elder abuse. People can develop care programs to aid in reducing stress of the burden of caring for an elderly person. People can be allocated small amounts of time to care for the elderly person.
A care plan can be established to aid in the treatment of the abuse (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 1). Due to cultural factors that may make elderly people look like a nuisance; these perceptions that lead to them being abused can be changed if there are platforms that aid in building positive attitudes towards the elderly. Positivity can be promoted through planning of platforms or situations for elderly people to interact with the society (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 7). Through this interaction; people can learn how to interact with the elderly and see that they are good and not to be cast away or shunned by the society due to age or changes in their capabilities. Communities can organize projects that require all members to participate and partner with the elderly thus building a bond between the elderly and members of the society.
In such cases they can be educated on steps to take to ensure they are protected from abuse. Elderly people can plan early about matters concerning their finances. They can write a will and put measures that will prevent people from misappropriating their property leading to their lack of funds when required. They can select a trustworthy person to be the administrator of their finances. Medical practitioners can be educated on signs to look for in people who may be suffering from abuse. Getting to understand the abuser; their needs or problems can aid in solving an abuse problem The Abuser can get support and advice to aid in their healing process. The abuser may be suffering from a mental disorder and this cannot be known until the abuser is examined and offered help (Krug et.
al. Once a problem is solved the behavior of the abuser will change and the elderly person will no longer be in danger. Some cases of abuse are due to conflicts within the household. Some areas where the elderly stay are harmful and hazardous to their health; such places should be refurbished to ensure that the elderly are not exposed to conditions that can affect their health. The environment they live in ought to be safe and clean at all times. Care givers can be taught how to be patient and perseverant with sick elderly people. It will reduce chances of them inflicting harm on the elderly person they are caring for. Elderly people who have suffered some form of abuse can undergo medical treatment to aid with healing of physical abuse or they can undergo therapy to help with the effects of emotional and psychological abuse which they may have experienced.
Assessing whether an abuse situation is low, medium or high risk is important before taking any action. One can tell if an abuse situation is low risk or medium based on the following factors. If a victim of abuse is subjected to fulfilling demands that are not threat like; this is a low risk case of abusing. If the victim feels like they cannot deny the abuser their demands, or if there are no decision on making boundaries to safeguard the victim; it is likely they are in a low risk type of abuse situation (Power, 22). One may be in a medium risk abusive situation if they feel that the abuse is caused by strenuous unhealthy relationships and dynamics within the family, if they are not willing to report their abuser to the police but want some form of emotional support from you and if they are experiencing some amount of emotional abuse.
They may fear being deprived of any financial privileges or lacking financial support from any other source as a result of reporting a case of abuse. Admitting that one has been abused; especially sexually is difficult as the victim may have feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment and sharing such intimate details about their experience is difficult. Such victims may have already lost the ability to trust and opening up to people about their experiences is difficult. When a person does not understand or speak the same language as other people within the community sharing with them is hindered by the language barrier. It may lead to them being unaware of how to seek help from the people they interact with.
There are certain types of assistance that can be given to victims of abuse; there are helplines and counselling services that one can access, legal assistance when the case requires court sessions to convict the abuser, case management and multidisciplinary teams that assist the victim once a case has been reported. There are dedicated free helplines through which one can report an abuse case anonymously to gain assistance. Once the case is reported; the help team can direct the caller on steps to take and ensure the victim is rescued. The victim can receive advice and counselling services via the helpline (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 14). The helpline shields victims from feeling shame or fear when talking about their experiences.
Different departments will collaborate to ensure the safety of the victim (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 18). There are laws that are in place against elderly abuse and various organizations that one can contact when they need to report a case of abuse. A person being abused or a witness to the abuse scenario can contact the Adult Protective Services. Once they explain the situation; the APS will be able to get help for the person who is inflicting abuse on the victim. The abuser can receive therapy session or get the proper advice to guide them against abusing the elderly (American Psychological Association, 16). In case one needs psychological aid there’s a Psychologist locator which makes it easy for people to get access to psychologist within their area.
The legal acts or laws that fight adult abuse include the Criminal Code, Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act (AGTA), Protection of Persons in Care Act (PPIC), Protection Against Family Violence Act (PAFVA), Personal Directives Act (PDA), Powers of Attorney Act (POA) and Mental. Health Act (MHA) (Power, 26). Criminal code states that there three types of major categories of abuse namely physical, psychological and financial. If a person is undergoing physical abuse; the cases that can legally be dealt with are assault which may consist a person being touched, pinched, hit or experiencing physical harm without their consent. Ay case of abuse that is reported is required to be reviewed thoroughly to ensure that the reports are well detailed; this will aid in deterring the need for investigation about the situation.
Investigations about a reported acre conducted when it necessary and it involves on-site visits, interviews and collection of all other relevant evidence. After the above steps the director decides whether the accusation is legitimate or not and then the case can be handled if it is relevant. The act states that there are offences that can be acted on such as a failure to report a case of abuse by a witness to an abusive situation. If a service provider within the facility does not comply with the rules during evaluation and investigation of an abuse case; this is a criminal act. There are some solutions that can be suggested that will aid in solving the problem of elderly abuse. Having a good understanding of the problem can aid in formulating solutions and implementing them effectively.
One beneficial solution is working with the Question and Answer committees to focus on continuing education and recertification processes. Building this will aid many areas like reducing fear to report cases in people. The elder abuse problem cannot be solved appropriately till the fear of reporting is dealt with and measures taken to ensure that elders receive the best quality of life. Employees of the organizations ought to be well versed in knowledge about elder abuse. They should know all the laws protecting elderly people, they should know how to intervene in case of abuse and the steps to take in treatment of recovery from abuse. Laws that have been set to protect the elderly should be implemented and respected at all times.
Things should not be done without the consent of the elderly where applicable. Laws should be observed by care givers and law enforcement personnel at all times. There are laws and ways to deal with elder abuse. Cases of elder abuse can be reported to bring aid to the person in need. Repotting of cases may face some obstacles like language barriers, lack of knowledge on how to report abusive situations, family hiding a case of abuse, neighbors ignoring a case of abuse and abuse being normalized within the society among others. The solutions to elderly abuse may work but not efficiently or effectively. The policy makers should take up suggestion such as making policies more client centered and increasing sensitization and education about elderly abuse and its affects.
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