The Issue of Elder Abuse and Neglect
There are considerable number of abuses on the elder population not only in the Canada but in other countries as well. These individuals deserve to enjoy and live life to the fullest rather than facing rough situation such as elder abuses. However, this kind of scenarios happen for more often than they should and sadly, there is nothing actions being made to prevent it. Elder exploitation must be acknowledged as a growing and sensitive issue in our nation. “The abuse of older adults occurs all too frequently but remains a largely hidden problem. It is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations”. (WHO, 2019)
In addition, as senior citizens advances more physically frail and started to rely on other people to achieve their basic needs such as physiological and emotional needs, they grow to become susceptible to intentional abuse and neglect within their comfort zone. “It can happen to anyone. It can come from a caregiver, a family member, or a neighbor. It can take place in the older person’s home, the home of a relative, or in an assisted living or nursing facility.” (Web MD , 2019) Elder abuse and mistreatment take in many forms such as physical abuse, financial exploitation, psychological or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect or abandonment.
Firstly, physical abuse is the most visible type of abuse in the aging population. “Physical abuse is the use of physical force or violence that causes bodily harm, injury, pain, or impairment to the victim. This can include battery, assault, or any inappropriate use of restraint between two people. Physical abuse can occur at any age and may be repetitive or a singular incident.” https://nursinghomeabuseguide.com/elder-abuse/physical-abuse/. Elder physical abuse may happen from a nursing aid, friend, health care professionals, family member, or any other individual the aging patient has communication with. This concern must be put in action before the victim will be traumatized and creates a feeling of self-worthlessness.
In particular, there are behavioral warning signs that one must note and observe for someone that is a victim of physical abuse: any abrasions that feature injuries from ropes or any forms of straps, bruises, burns from cigarette or appliances, wound or bone dislocation. Furthermore, there are some physical pointers to indicate elderly physical abuse such as disengagement from ordinary activities or social cooperation that the aging individual enjoys, forced relationship, elders admitted to hospital again with similar injuries, individuals has injury incidence that is unexplained.
Secondly, financial exploitation is the most common abuse among ageing population in Canada and frequently unreported. This type of abuse is the wrongful or unwarranted handling of someone else’s money or ownership. “Financial abuse can happen at any time, but it will often start after a health crisis or after the death of a spouse, partner or close friend. People who are alone, lonely or in poor health are more vulnerable.” (Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Senior Forum, 2010). Also, senior citizens are easily deceived by individuals whom they treated as a family, friend, personal worker or relative. The offender usually relies on the elder in both physiological and shelter needs such as: food and place to live.
Moreover, there are warning signs of financial exploitation namely: taking money or cheques without the permission of the owner, not able to handle finances as agreed, theft or forgery, elders don’t have the power to access her finances and prevention of making financial arrangement, individuals are forced to change the will or strained them to sign any legal documents that they don’t fully comprehend. These situations are alarming and elderly individuals must be mindful on how to address these issues properly. One can consult a lawyer, seek help from a trusted friend, relative or family member and/or report to the local police if anyone forges or use the credit card without permission.
Thirdly, psychological or emotional abuse is the infliction of mental agony by means of embarrassment, manipulation or threats. “This type of abuse can also happen within the home, with the perpetrator being a family member or a live-in nursing aid. The emotional abuse that occurs in a nursing facility includes any kind of emotional pain or psychological distress perpetrated against the elder by a caregiver at the home.” https://www.nursinghomeabusecenter.com/elder-abuse/types/emotional-abuse/ Emotional abuse is very difficult to distinguish due to the reason that there are usually no physical indicators that occurred.
However, aging individuals display certain attitude that are a warning signs of having experienced of psychological abuse such; lack of eye contact, fearfulness, paranoia, sleep deprivation, low self-esteem, depressed or withdrawn, engaging in self-injurious behavior or not participating in social interactions in the facility. In addition, emotional abuse displays via verbal or nonverbal cues and it is a methodical perpetration of mischievous non-contact action towards an elder. For instance, are molestation, shouting, belittlement and disgrace. (Margie Eckroth-Bucher, 2008) In coping in this type of abuse, it is very important to recognize that overloaded support worker may danger elderly individual accidentally. Facilities can conduct counselling and screening for personal support worker and family members undergoing problems in order to prevent devastating situations that affects elderly individuals mentally.
Last but not least, sexual abuse is one of the most horrible types of abuse in elder. Wherein there is sexual engagement without an elder’s full knowledge and approval. It is a forceful action that leads to assault and rape. The elderly individuals who were sexually abused had underlying medical conditions that cause memory loss, disorientation, difficulty in conversing- all of these hinders the capability of the elder to report such incidence. “Sexual abuse can take place with a confused senior, (dementia), or confused residents in care facilities where they may be approached by other vulnerable residents, visiting spouses/partners, or occasionally, by care workers. Sexual abuse can also happen to competent seniors by spouses, partners, family members, or trusted people in their lives.” (Senior First BC , 2019). The victimizer keeps an eye to frail individuals who they believe are defenseless and weak.
Furthermore, Elder sexual abuse is an aspect of elder maltreatment that can involve multiple forms of abuse. It can include types of elder physical abuse and emotional abuse. Furthermore, it can be difficult to seek justice for elder sexual abuse.
- (Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Senior Forum, 2010)