Monday, September 25th, 2017

Facts About Elder Abuse

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According to the American Psychological Association (APA), elder abuse happens more often in a home situation than in a nursing facility.  According to the Aged Care Crisis (ACC), “Elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that in 2010, there were about 3.1 million people over the age of 65, i.e. about 13.5 percent of the population.  The Australian Institute of Family Studies, 95 percent of elder Australians live at home under the care of themselves, a spouse, or other family members.  The last five percent live in a specialised facility for elders.  Between 4.5 and 5 percent of older people experience some form of elder abuse, and 8 percent of adults know an elder who has encountered abuse.

The 8 Types of Abuse
The ACC states the following as the abuses the elderly suffer from:

Physical Abuse – Slapping, hitting, beating, shoving, pushing, kicking, pinching, burning, biting, severe beatings, inappropriate restraint
Emotional Abuse – Inflicting mental pain, anguish.
Sexual Abuse – Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, sexual exhibition to rape or sodomy; Inappropriate touching; Photographing in suggestive poses; Forcing to view pornography; Forcing sexual contact; Coerced nudity
Exploitation – Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.
Abandonment – The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
Neglect – Withholding appropriate attention; Intentionally failing to meet older person’s physical, social, emotional needs; Failure to provide food, water, clothing, medications; Failure to assist with activities of daily living or help with personal hygiene
Emotional and Psychological Abuse – Name-calling, “Silent treatment”, Intimidate or threaten the individual; invoke fear or mental anguish; cause emotional pain or distress, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts
Financial Abuse – Misuse of older family member’s funds; Embezzlement; Fraud, forgery; Taking money under false pretences; Forced property transfers

The Problem
The causes of elder abuse are as follows:
Staff burnout:
Staff are overworked and underpaid; some staff members are required to care for between 60 and 70 patients during each shift.
Staff frustration.
Understaffing.
Undertrained staff.

However, the problem isn’t just that elder abuse exists, it’s that not enough is being done to prevent it.  The Australian government, like many other countries’ governments (e.g. the United States), does not collect comprehensive data about elder abuse.  Thus, it is impossible to know just how widespread the problem is.  Without that knowledge, education on elder abuse is hampered; thus people do not know about the problem, let alone what causes it.

Additionally, until recently, reporting abuses was not required; in 2007, aged-care proprietors and managers were officially required to report cases of sexual and “severe” physical abuses; you’ll notice that:
Physical cases are only required to be reported if they are severe.
They are not required to report occurrences of the other 6 forms of elder abuse.

The fact is this: The problem cannot be rectified until the government takes action, people are educated on elder abuse, and there is a system in which all elder abuse is required to be reported.

Why We Should All Be Outraged
Elder abuse is heinous.  Period.  If they’re not already, the elderly will be our grandparents and parents; these are the people with whom we spent summer and holiday vacations, who fed us and raised us, and who took care of us when we were sick.  On a broader spectrum, these are our teachers, nurses, doctors, law enforcement, and all other people who helped us become what we are today and remain safe.  We owe it to our loved ones and those in the community to ensure that they are protected from abusers; they deserve to receive beyond adequate care and the utmost respect as they age.  We must act now by educating others and pleading for our government to do something about the problem to ensure their safety in their elder years.

Amber Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing to us information on elder abuse. Amber also writes about nursing home abuse statistics

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