Elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that lead to or may lead to, the harm of a vulnerable elder. Key Facts: s How Many Elders Are Abused? According to the Department of Justice, a minimum of 1 in 9 or 11% percent of Americans over age 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year. s Many Cases Go Unreported. For every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, at least five more go unreported.
Facts About Elder Abuse
Who Commits Elder Abuse?
In almost 90% of the elder abuse and neglect incidents with a known perpetrator,
the perpetrator is a family member, and two-thirds of the perpetrators
are adult children or spouses. s Financial Abuse is Common. Elder financial
abuse is regarded as the third most commonly substantiated type of elder
abuse, following neglect and emotional/psychological abuse. While underreported,
the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated
to be at least $2.6 billion dollars. s Reports Increasing. As the number
of elders increases, so does the problem. Adult Protective Services (APS)
found that elder abuse reports have increased by 16% comparing data from
2000 with that of 2004. s Death Rates Higher. For those elders who have
been mistreated, the risk of death is 300 times greater than those who
have not been.
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TYPES OF ABUSE
Physical and sexual abuse of seniors often includes:
- hitting, pushing or shaking;
- inappropriate physical and chemical restraints;
- harm created by over or under medicating;
- unexplained visible burns, scratches, bruises, cuts or swellings; or
- vague or illogical explanations for injuries
Psychological and emotional abuse of seniors may include:
- intimidation, humiliation, and harassment;
- treating them like a child; or
- isolating them from family, friends or regular activities.
Financial abuse of seniors can include:
- misusing or stealing a senior’s assets, property or money;
- cashing an elderly person’s cheques without authorization;
- forging an elderly person’s signature; or
- unduly pressuring seniors to make or change a will, or to sign legal documents that they do not fully understand.
Neglect of seniors can include not providing appropriate:
- water, food, shelter and clothing;
- medication or medical attention; and
- assistance with basic necessities.
Elder Abuse Preventions
Many strategies have been implemented to prevent elder abuse and to take action against it and mitigate its consequences. Interventions that have been implemented – mainly in high-income countries – to prevent abuse include:
- public and professional awareness campaigns;
- screening (of potential victims and abusers);
- school-based intergenerational programs;
- caregiver support interventions (e.g. stress management, respite care);
- residential care policies to define and improve standards of care; and
- caregiver training on dementia.
Efforts to respond to and prevent further abuse include interventions such as:
- mandatory reporting of abuse to authorities;
- self-help groups;
- safe-houses and emergency shelters;
- psychological programs for people who abuse;
- helplines to provide information and referrals; and
- caregiver support interventions.
Evidence for the effectiveness of most of these interventions is limited at present. However, caregiver support after abuse has occurred reduces the likelihood of its reoccurrence and school-based intergeneration programs (to decrease negative societal attitudes and stereotypes towards older people) have shown some promise, as have caregiver support to prevent elder abuse before it occurs and professional awareness of the problem. Evidence suggests that adult protective services and home visitation by police and social workers for victims of elder abuse may, in fact, have adverse consequences, increasing elder abuse.
Multiple sectors and interdisciplinary collaboration can contribute to reducing elder abuse, including:
- the social welfare sector (through the provision of legal, financial, and housing support);
- the education sector (through public education and awareness campaigns); and
- the health sector (through the detection and treatment of victims by primary health care workers).
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How Does CDC Approach Elder Abuse?
CDC uses a 4-step approach to address public health problems like elder abuse.
Step 1: Define the problem Before we can prevent elder abuse, we need to know how big the problem is, where it is, and whom it affects. CDC learns about a problem by gathering and studying data. These data are critical because they help decision makers send resources where they are needed most.
Step 2: Identify risk and protective factors It is not enough to know that elder abuse is affecting a certain group in a certain area. We also need to know why abuse occurs. CDC conducts and supports research to answer this question. We can then develop programs to reduce or get rid of risk factors and increase protective factors.
Step 3: Develop and test prevention strategies Using information gathered in research, CDC develops and evaluates strategies to prevent violence.
Step 4: Ensure widespread adoption. In this final step, CDC shares the best prevention strategies. CDC may also provide funding or technical help so communities can adopt these strategies.
Where Can I Learn More?
Elder Abuse Helplines and Hotlines Call 1-800-677-1116 Always dial 911 or local police during emergencies.
National Center on Elder Abuse www.ncea.aoa.gov
National Institute on Aging www.nia.nih.gov
National Institute of Justice www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/crime/elder-abuse/welcome.htm
For more information on elder abuse, visit www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention
WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY: WE CAN STOP ELDER ABUSE – 15 JUNE, 2016
The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). It is the main day in the year when the world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.
The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
In addition, WEAAD is in support of the United Nations International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Visit the WEAAD microsite on ACL.gov to become a collaborator.
Check out WEAAD events hosted worldwide at the WEADD International Events website created by International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) .