Elder abuse is a practice that has been very controversial, especially in its definition. Different professionals have defined it using different definitions, which make it difficult to have a clear common understanding. Understanding this practice from varied cultural and ethnic settings can help community nurses understand it in its entirety. In an attempt to create an understanding of elder abuse, several theories have been put forward. These theories include ecological theory, domestic violence theory, psychopathology theory, caregiver stress theory, and trans-generational theory (Phelan). However, lack of research evidence renders the theories to be viewed as risk factors rather than proper explanations.
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Community nurses should be aware of the impact on ageism on old people because they are often confused with elder abuse impact. Moreover, interpersonal disagreements can cause confusion between abuse and conflicts. Different types of elder abuse have been identified and accepted unanimously by different professionals. These typologies include sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, psychological abuse and financial abuse.
Identifying elder abuse has been very difficult, especially to community nurses. To address this challenge, several screening tools have been identified. These tools are classified into primary assessment tools and secondary assessment tools. Primary assessment tools identify already abused elders and those likely to be abused. Secondary assessment tool screens for existing cases of abuse with the intentions of determining future risks.
The family as a unit has a large impact on elder abuse. Many of abuse cases occur within the family, but disclosure has been difficult due to many factors such as home privacy. Therefore, identification of elder abuse becomes difficult because of its hidden nature within the family.
Although community nurses have a critical role to play in dealing with elder abuse, managing the cases is difficult because of ethical dilemmas involved and the scope of practice that defines the nurse’s action boundaries. Community nurses have a big role to play in preventing elder abuse and ensuring proper treatment for elders who have been abused. Their involvement in elder abuse practice can be divided in to three areas namely, primary, secondary and tertiary care. In primary care, the nurses assess the whole family environment to identify risk factors. In secondary care, nurses identify elder abuse and ensure a referral to an appropriate agency. Nurses provide follow up support in tertiary care to family members and the elder person. Finally, the community care nurse must document the abuse case succinctly. This helps in understanding details of the cases such as reasons for certain actions, communication and transfer of specific cases to other nurses.
This article contains detailed information regarding both the topic of elder abuse and the role of community nurses in the management of the elder abuse. Moreover, this article has been supported by detailed research from various persons and institutions, an indication that the information in it is credible. Credible information is very important especially to a community nurse practitioner because it provides a basis for understanding practical circumstances during the nursing practice. It is for these reasons that I chose this specific article.
This article has provided me with many important lessons. One lesson from this article is that the assumption that a family setting is a safe environment to its members is faulty and should be disregarded. This lesson will help me become a better nurse through clear probing and asking questions without assuming socially accepted notions. The article has insisted on the importance of assuring the abused elder of total confidentiality in an attempt to seek cooperation. This is an important lesson that will enable me to consciously remember the importance of confidentiality in my community nursing practice. Consequently, I will be able to gain trust from patients which will ensure success in my work.
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