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Elder abuse describes specific types of harm to our elders. It is also known as senior abuse or elder mistreatment. One of the most accepted definition of this type of abuse is a single or repeated action that occurs in any relationship where trust is highly anticipated. Thus, the failure to meet these expectations causes distress and harm to the elders.
Many people observe elder abuse as harm in a place where there is expected trust of the older person by those who abuse them. This means that these older people are abused by individuals whom they are related with (Administration on Aging, 1998). This includes family members, spouses, partners, neighbors and friends, or any other person the elder relies on for service. Most of these forms of abuse are identified as types of family violence.
The Abusive Life of an Elder
Older people in the contemporary world are very active, more independent than in the past few decades. Nevertheless, as the population of the elders grows, the hidden problem of their abuse, neglect, and their exploitation occurs.
In every passing year, quite a good number of older people are victims of psychological and physical torture. The astonishing thing is that the highest percentage of people abusing these elder people is usually their family members. They tend to forget the hard work that these people did when they were active and productive. Neglect is one of the many forms of abuse directed at them. This is due to the fact that as one grows old, the body strength drastically gets to reduce. What one could do in his/her youth remains a history. Many strong and productive people neglect this factor. They do not want to understand the elders when they request to have some activities done for them.
Those, who abuse the elders, term them as their burden. Others claim that these people are smelly. It is as well a result of the neglect, when no one sacrifices his time to wash clothes for these people or bathe them, leaving them remain with no other choice other than living in a state of being dirt.
Mostly children of these elderly people live in the urban areas whereas parents themselves are living in the rural areas. These results in them living a lonely live. Most of them suffer from depression as a result of solitary state .This shortens their lifespan. Other people rarely visit their parents (Tina, 2008). These older people are thus forced to depend fully on themselves for their survival and they have to overwork their bodies beyond their productivity rates. As a result, they suffer from joint ache and other bodily injuries and diseases.
Just like any other forms of abuse, abusing the elders is an extremely complex problem, causing misconceptions at times. Most people think about older people’s neglect as a practice that only happens in nursing homes or in case of lonely living elders, who never have visitors.
In fact, most reported cases of elder abuse do not occur in nursing home. Occasionally, there appear shocking reports of residents from nursing home being mistreated by the staff. However, it is not a common elder abuse problem. Majority of the residents in the nursing homes have their needs met without neglect or abuse (Choi, 2008).
It has been noted that mostly mistreatments are taking place at home. Older people live with their relatives, children or sponsors. When the abuse happens, the family and the other household members are the common abusers. Though there are many cases of this type of abuse, the abuse is often subtle. The distinction that exists between the interpersonal stress and the abuse is not easy to discern.
No single pattern of the abuse has been realized in homes. Sometimes, the neglect is a continuation of a normal pattern of emotional and physical abuse within the family. Abuse can be related to changes that occur in relationships or living situations that make the older individuals more dependent on their members in terms of meeting the basic needs and for companionship.
It is not only the infirm and the mentally impaired elderly individuals that are vulnerable to abuse. The elders, who are depressed, ill, mentally impaired, frail and disable experience a higher risk of being abused. Nevertheless, even those, who do not have these risk factors, can find themselves to be victims of abusive relationships and situations (Klein, 2008).
Elder abuse does not impact well those involved. In reference to the Bible, God commanded us to obey and respect our parents. This is a commandment that comprises a promise. The promise is that one will get to live longer on the earth. Many of those involved in abusing the old people suffer very much from different problems (Hildreth, 2011).
Types of Elder Abuse
Physical abuse is one of the greatest dangers that elders face. They experience actions of violence that cause a lot of pain and suffering. These actions include force-feeding, improper use of physical medication or restraints as well as striking and pushing (Acierno, 2009). Other abusers cause psychological and emotional abuse. This is brought about by mental anguish that includes threat, isolation, nonverbal and verbal insults (Dong, 2005).
The elders also experience material and financial exploitation. Some family members are fond of misusing older people’s money or their assets for personal gain. Then older family members suffer being stolen their processions and social security checks (Rinkler, 2009).
The caretaker fails to provide the basic needs of the elder. They do not take into consideration that these people need devices like glasses and dentures and that they may also require safety precautions and preventive health care. Failure to give social stimulation involves leaving an elder person alone for long periods of time (Daniels, 2003). There are cases when the elders suffer sexual abuse.. The family members, fellow patients, friends and family members are the main offenders when it comes to this.
Just like any other kind of violence, elder abuse is never accepted as a way of solving any situation or problem, however stressful it might be. One of the most effective means of control of such abuse would be effective interventions. This can be achieved by the increase of awareness among the mental health professions and physicians (Medical Association White Paper on Elderly Health, 1990).