As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), elder abuse refers to acts or lack of action that cause distress or harm to an older individual. This can occur as a singular event or take place continuously over a period of time. As long as your older loved one is in any relationship where there is trust involved, there is reasonable concern that he or she might experience elder abuse. This is an extremely worrying and problematic social issue, and statistics show that globally, one out of six senior citizens in the community is experiencing elder abuse. Read on to find out more about how elder abuse occurs and how we can prevent it from happening.
Types of Abuse
Elder abuse can take on many forms. They can include but are not limited to psychological, financial, physical, sexual abuse as well as neglect. These types of abuse can be further categorized into ones that take place in community settings, for example abuse that happens at home and abuse that takes place in institutions such as nursing homes, hospitals, and other long-term care facilities.
There are certain considerations that can increase a senior’s risk or potential for abuse. On an individual level, certain medical and mental health conditions can increase the risks. For example, an individual who is suffering from memory loss or dementia is a very worrying victim. In events where decline of cognitive abilities is in the later stages, it is possible that the elderly individual might not even be able to seek for help or remember the abuse that had taken place. Elderly women, especially widows, are also at higher risk of severe and persistent forms of injuries, financial abuse, as well as neglect. This is even more so in communities where women have a lower social status compared to men.
There are also indicators in relationships that may pose as a risk factor for abuse. For example, when one individual is totally dependent on another. There is no indicator of what kind of familial relationship is a stronger risk factor for abuse, however, in the event that someone is financially reliant on the other, it is worth keeping an eye on him or her.
Within the community, elderly who are socially isolated are also at risk for abuse by their caretakers. This can also be exacerbated by certain socio-cultural values like age-based discrimination, the lack of financial means to support care of the older individual and perhaps even migration of the children which leads to elderly parents being left alone with their caregivers.
Preventing Elder Abuse
Around the world, there have been varied levels of interventions like professional and public awareness campaigns. In the United States, there are also policies dictating the level of care that residential care providers must meet, as well as extensive training that caregivers are required to attend. To put it very simply, the need to prevent elder abuse is a mindset that has to be ingrained across all sectors of society from community members, caregivers in institution, and even to the seniors themselves.
Here at Rittenhouse Village At Muhlenberg, we take our duty of care to the residents in our senior living community very seriously. Whether it is long-term personal care or short term respite care, our dedicated staff go through regular rigorous training and are consistently striving to improve the quality of life of the seniors in our care. For more information on our stance on elder abuse as well as our senior living options, contact us today.