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Elder abuse or elder mistreatment occurs when a person intentionally or unintentionally brings harm to an elder person. It is also when the health and well-being of an elder is negatively affected. In a research done in the United States had shown 700,000 out of 1. 5 million elders are being mistreated. There are different forms of elder abuse varying from – physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, abandonment and a combination of the forms stated earlier. Anyone can be an abuser, even if he/she is a family to the victim; a member of a formal care center (medical staff, caregiver etc. ; and people within the community where the elder belongs.
There are no specific characteristics for these abusers; they cannot be solely distinguished from the crowd. However, we can distinguish elderly people who maybe a victim of elderly mistreatment by observing their behaviors, and by observing his/her environment. Literature Review According to the electronic copy of the “15 Questions & Answers About Elder Abuse” from the National Center on Elder Abuse, elderly mistreatment occurs when intended or carelessly actions brought harm to an elder.
Abusers have different personalities and reasons for committing abusive actions to elderly people. Then how do we spot an abuser? Specially at times, when the elder being abused is physically or mentally incapable of reporting to the authorities. Some signs that may indicate occurrences of abuse is when there are visible bruises, slap markings, rashes on the victim’s body; change in behavior (fearful, more aggressive etc. ); isolating themselves; lack proper clothing & food; refuse medication; poor living quarters and so on.
Other signs to look for in the abusers’ personality are whether he/she is an : alcoholic, had history of domestic abuse; mental illness; bad temper; tendency to blame other people; economic pressure and so on. The above mentioned are just a few informative facts to consider when suspecting of elderly abuse occurrences, either by the abuser or victim’s actions. We have to be aware that currently there are no federal laws protecting elders from elderly mistreatment.
However, there are state laws which protect the elderly, like the institutional abuse concerning elderly people in nursing homes and the like. There is also the domestic abuse where elderly abuse falls too, abuse happens within the family. An increasing number of states are becoming responsive in enforcing laws protecting the elders. We are reminded too, to do our part as responsible citizens, that when we suspect of elderly abuse we must inform the police or an adult protective service for them to conduct investigations and provide help to the victims.
NCEA also suggested ways to decrease the risk of experiencing elder abuse by – staying busy in life and acquiring a strong support from one’s family; living healthy to avoid dependence when getting old and lastly, trust your instincts when things don’t feel right. As a whole, there are actions being done by the government together with various organizations to fight and decrease the level of elder abuse thru awareness programs and elder abuse prevention activities. Methodology My topic is about elderly abuse which is currently happening around the world.
It cannot be denied that more and more elders are experiencing it right now. Thus, awareness to the public must be brought regarding the definition of elder abuse, who are the victims and abusers, how to prevent it and how to report a case of elder abuse. It has come to my awareness that there are numerous organizations created to prevent elder abuse and help those who have been victims of it. Though no federal law has been made specifically for elder abuse, there are state laws present to give corresponding actions and solutions to such cases.
As a citizen, I had been informed that I can make a difference, that I can help decrease the cases of elder abuse by being attentive to my surroundings and socially responsive when needed, like if I see an instance of elder abuse there are hotlines that I can call. My small gesture of notifying the authorities will start a proper investigation and will help the elder experiencing abuse.
Data Analysis I had stated earlier that elder abuse can be done in many forms. I shall further elaborate how elder abuse takes place: . ) Physical Abuse – when force is used to elderly people causing them harm and injury. It may not necessarily mean that the abuser is beating or hurting the elderly victim, instead it may also be in the form of confining the elder in one place or restraining him/her to act freely. 2. ) Emotional Abuse – hurting and offending the elder verbally which may hurt one’s feeling and cause him/her stress. Forms of verbal abuse are yelling to the person, threatening and blaming the person.
Examples of non-verbal abuse are when the elder is being ignored, treated carelessly & menacingly, and isolated from the society. 3. ) Neglect or Abandonment – when the elder is unable to take proper medication; lives in a poor living condition; actively or passively not being taken good care of; and when he/she does not receive proper care. 4. ) Financial Exploitation – the abuser (either a family member, caregiver or a third person) uses the victim’s possession and money without permission.
This occurs when the victim’s credit card and cash are being used by an unauthorized person; forgery of the victim’s signature; identity theft; financially unable to support one’s self; pension checks being stolen and so on. 5. ) Health Care Fraud & Abuse – the abusers are from the medical staff either the doctors, nurses, caregivers and health care institutions. This case is present when there is overcharging, overmedication or opposite; kickbacks from referrals and so on. Anyone is capable of committing elder abuse for different reasons.
Some of the most common reasons, however are due to financial interests; lack of patience to take care of the elder; short tempered; feeling superior over the elder since the elder can’t fight back or stand from himself; and the way of thinking of the abusers that their actions won’t be known by other people. Results In some instances though, elder abuse is really unintentional such in the cases of caregivers. When they are pushed beyond their limit and are over-whelmed with stress from work and their personal lives. Influence plays an important part as well, on why elder abuse occurs both from the abuser and victims actions.
For the victim’s part, he/she may have been an abuser earlier to the people around him/her; has his/her own tendency to physically or verbally abuse people; and has a domestic history of violence in their home. On the abuser’s part, he/she has previous domestic violence involvement; may be due to drugs or alcoholism; short tempered and so on. In the end though, once it has been proven that there had been elder abuse, the abuser may either go to jail and/or pay for damages done to the victim. The victim on the other hand is given proper help to recover.
If abusive actions are not recognized from the start, may cause minor to major damages to the victim. But if elder abuse is detected much earlier, it can be prevented and many will not suffer. In a 1992 article published, and re-posted on the internet, the term “Granny dumping” has been used pertaining to the abandonment of elderly people. This only shows that elder abuse had been present for a long time, and its population has increased over the years. The good thing is that in present years, proper actions and help is offered to the public, thus creating awareness.
Discussion Elder Abuse, or earlier known as ‘Granny dumping’ has long been present. In America alone, according to the studies made, a day won’t pass that an elder is not brought to the emergency room because he/she has been abandoned or maltreated. It is a sad fact that not many are aware that elder abuse exists or that they are doing elder abuse by simply yelling at these elders or by disrespecting them. With the rise of nursing homes, these elderly people are becoming more vulnerable since they are exposed and involved with people whom they don’t know at all.
When the family of the elder can no longer take care of him/her, they are sent to nursing institutions. Worse, if the family has no financial means they just leave their elder on the streets. There is nothing wrong in being a caregiver, but if you are becoming over-whelmed with your job you can do these things to avoid elder abuse – seek help from friends/family/institutions, take short leaves; find an adult day care program whenever you feel like your stress-out; adopt stress reduction activities; seek emotional help when needed; and maintain a healthy lifestyle for yourself too.
There are numerous ways to prevent elder abuse, but it all has to start within the community we belong and by us, being observant of what’s happening in our surrounding. It may start with our uncomfortable feeling how an elder we know or see is being treated, we can speak up and report it to the authorities. It does not mean that these elderly people can no longer stand up for themselves would remain silent and just take the abuses given to them. We must speak up for them. Conclusion
It is clear that elder abuse happens worldwide, the focus of my research paper has been in the U. S. alone. What’s even more disappointing is that most common abusers are the family members of the elder, have they forgotten about the times when their parents or their elderly relatives took care of them? However, the actions of these abusers are clearly wrong but they may have their reason for having committed abuse. Abusers or prospective abusers must seek help whether emotional support or medications for them to avoid improper behavior towards the elderly people.
Today, awareness to the public about elder abuse is being given importance. Funds are being set aside and donations are being given to help inform the public and save abused elders. The condition in decreasing the number of elder abuse has strengthened and improved. As more volunteers and organizations are willing to help. Add too, the support obtained locally and internationally from political organizations and leaders. Let’s not forget that abusers are also faced with equivalent punishments and fines for their actions.
The simplest help everyone can give, is to be socially aware and responsive to one’s surrounding. It’s like watching for each other’s back, and offering help even in the smallest means. Though the authorities are present, the policemen and various organizations, we have to act first before they can proceed and apply proper actions about the abusive cases. Second, we can apply these reminders in our lives: 1. ) listen to our seniors and their caregivers; 2. ) intervene upon suspicion of elder abuse; and 3. ) educate or inform other people about elder abuse.
Lastly, how can we protect our elders and ourselves from elder abuse? By arranging our financial and legal affairs, if legal help is required, obtain one. Second, by staying in touch with our friends, family and relatives to decrease our vulnerability to abuse and the like. And we must keep in mind, that all human beings must be treated well; elders, women, men and children must be treated humanely and be given their needs in life such as proper housing, enough food, required medication, proper clothing and care.