According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) there has been a steady growth of the elderly in the United States. This growing population of age 65 and older has been predicted to continue to increase due to better conditions and increase of medical help for the seniors. Mortality rate tremendously dropped as medical research success helped the society’s health and improved elder care services. This increase of the elderly in our population has also increased the rate of abuse. According to Johannesen, M., & LoGiudice, D. (2013). Elder abuse: a systematic review of risk factors in community-dwelling elders. Age and Ageing, afs195.
At least 6% of the elderly abuse was reported every month. But experts estimate that there is only 1 reported in every 23 cases. Elder abuse is a human rights violation that must be given attention just like any other form of abuse. These elder abuse cases were left unreported because some elderly do not have families, they fear retaliation from the abuser especially if the abuser is a member of the family they do not want to upset the family member, they are embarrassed about what happened to them, and they fear they will be removed from their house losing their independence, lack of understanding how to report. In order to prevent elder abuse, it is important to know its prevalence, its classification, and the strategic steps towards intervention.
Classification of Elder Abuse .
There are factors why an elder person may be more predisposed to abuse than others. Gerry Benette and Paul Kingston mentioned that the stereotype female whose communication skills are impaired and is in total dependence to a caregiver is more likely to get abused than a male elderly who still has the ability to talk and assert. A profile of a typical abuser was described as, “a person who is not employed, has a prior criminal history or domestic violence case, has a history on drug or alcohol dependence”(2013). There are five ways an elder can be abused: physical, psychological, sexual, financial, and neglect (citation needed). Staying alert to signs and symptoms of abuse. Listening intently to the elder.
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Physical abuse can be categorized as something that is done to the elderly on purpose and it manifests in a form of bruise, lacerations, broken bones/teeth, or muscle soreness (Watson, 2013). This form of abuse can happen at the elderly’s home inflicted by a caregiver or in a residential facility by the staff. At home, watch for signs such as broken glasses of the elderly and the refusal of the caregiver to allow you to talk to the elder alone. Patients who may have temporary or permanent mental issues may be combative or they may have the risk of falling down their bed. Without psychiatric medications they may cause harm to themselves or to the nursing staff. For this reason some nurses restrain them. If they do not use the proper material and protocol, those restraints can bruise or cut the patient. CCTV cameras installed in some nursing facilities showed how impatient nursing staff physically abuses the elderly. Perhaps because there is a shortage of nursing staff and the nursing assistant was in a hurry and so they become rough in handling the patients to the point of shoving them to be seated on their chair, slapping them, or using inappropriate drugs to knock them out so that they stop calling nursing assistants from their beds.
Psychological abuse can be verbal or non-verbal. According to Eileen Watson, verbal abuse can be forms of “threat, intimidation, yelling, humiliation, or ridicule and non-verbal abuse can be in a form of isolating the elderly from group activities or confining the patient away from social activities”. There were more reports of emotional abuse than physical abuse among the elderly but such cases are hard to detect during investigation (Williams, 2016).