Elder Abuse: The Problem and Proposed Research Study
Elder abuse is perhaps one of the most aggravated problems that exists in the modern world affecting old people. More than common afflictions like cardiovascular disease or diabetes, elder abuse is viewed all over the world as a complex and debilitating problem, one that needs decisive and immediate actions from the health care industry, legislators, the social work sector, and concerned citizens. Elder abuse is a problem that thrives all around the world, and as the international population of elderly people grows all over the world, the problem demands immediate action and preventative measures. It is important to acknowledge that what happens to the elderly in this regard is very preventable: it does not have to happen and is the mark of a faltering and in many ways, uncaring society. “This emphasis is appropriate because elder abuse is likely the most widespread problem of older people that is largely preventable (unlike many disease conditions of old age).
Therefore, a better understanding of causes and prevention of elder abuse should be a major international priority. Fortunately, an improving international scientific literature has accompanied this growing concern, including prevalence studies in a number of countries and international comparative projects” (Pillemer et al., 2015). Prevention is absolutely essential in being able to get a handle on the pervasive issue that is elder abuse. The more people understand the complexities of this phenomenon, the more healthcare professionals, social welfare professionals and educated citizens will be able to take strategic action to prevent this problem.
Scholars and experts who have dedicated themselves to this issue have determined that there are five main types of elder abuse. Many people in the past have wrongfully considered elder abuse as a mere physical altercation. While this is true, elder abuse unfortunately extends to a variety of factors and behaviors that prey on older adults and cause them much pain. These five types of abuse are composed of the following: “physical abuse, or acts carried out with the intention to cause physical pain or injury; psychological or verbal abuse, defined as acts carried out with the aim of causing emotional pain or injury; sexual abuse, defined as nonconsensual sexual contact of any kind; financial exploitation, involving the misappropriation of an older person’s money or property; and neglect, or the failure of a designated caregiver to meet the needs of a dependent older person” (Lachs & Pillemer, 2015). This definition offers a more comprehensive picture of elder abuse and shows that it can manifest in various forms. This definition points to the fact that many elderly people around the world are suffering in ways no person should have to endure. Elderly people are vulnerable and elder abuse is one of the saddest evils of our day as so many people exploit their vulnerability.
It’s difficult to determine the scope and prevalence of elder abuse since like all forms of abuse it’s not always reported accurately and fully. Hence, research studies that have attempted to gather accurate data on this issue may or may not show the most relevant figures. For example, in 2008, Laumann and associates were able to conclude that the most common type of elder abuse reported that verbal abuse was the most frequent type at 9% of elderly participants experiencing such things.
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The next most common form of mistreatment was financial at 3.5% and finally physical mistreatment was the rarest type of abuse, occurring in fewer than 1% of participants.
In a similar fashion, a famous study that was based in New York found that one in 13 elderly adults had experienced some form of elder abuse in the previous year. The most common forms of abuse were financial manipulation, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and physical abuse (Lifespan of Greater Rochester, 2011). The data collected by these research studies illuminate how more concerted action is crucial in order to stop the threat of elder abuse. The mark of a healthy society is seen in how it treats its most vulnerable members: it’s children, old people and animals. The fact that elder abuse is allowed to exist in the world in any extent signals that there is work that must be done immediately to address, abolish and prevent this scathing problem.
The purpose of this study is to better understand the problem of elder abuse, along with the risk factors that contribute to this severely unfortunate problem. Rather than vilifying the perpetrators as evil monsters, we must seek to understand them and to fully comprehend how these dysfunctional behaviors even begin to manifest. The better that this problem is fully understood, the better one can take organized actions to stop them. Hence, the ultimate focus of this paper will revolve around the best way to prevent and thwart elder abuse in the most successful fashion.
Luckily, when it comes to this exact endeavor, there is a host of research on the subject that can offer insight into why the problem manifests and what can be done to nip it in the bud in the most proactive manner. For example, the study “interventions for Preventing Elder abuse” by Baker and colleagues (2017) does morn the paucity of evidence and data on this very subject and says this absence creates a very low guide to practice. Furthermore, the researchers also condemn the preponderance of “wasteful” research, which needs to be stopped as it does nothing to shed light on the traits inherent in the problem. “Amongst the interventions, there is some evidence that teaching coping skills to family careers of persons with dementia might make the situation better” (Baker et al., 2017). Hence, while this intervention might not seem all that revelatory, it actually demonstrates an intense understanding of why elder abuse occurs in the first place. Many people who have been charged with the care of people with dementia aren’t fully prepared with how debilitating and draining such an endeavor actually is. A lot of these people are family members who haven’t been taught the appropriate way to vent and deal with the very real stressors of caring for a relative with dementia. Teaching people useful coping strategies rather than making the incorrect assumption that they’ll “figure things out” on their own is….....
Baker, P. R., Francis, D. P., Hairi, M., Naqiah, N., Othman, S., & Choo, W. Y. (2017). Interventions for preventing elder abuse: applying findings of a new Cochrane review. Age and ageing, 46(3), 346-348.
Dong, X. Q. (2015). Elder abuse: systematic review and implications for practice. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 63(6), 1214-1238.
Lachs, M. S., & Pillemer, K. A. (2015). Elder abuse. New England Journal of Medicine, 373(20), 1947-1956.
Laumann, E., Leitsch, S., & Waite, L. (2008). Elder mistreatment in the United States: prevalence estimates from a nationally representative study. The Journals of Gerontology Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 63(4), S248– S254.
Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University, & New York City Department for the Aging. (2011). Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study (PDF).
Ncea.acl.gov. (2018). National Center on Elder Abuse, What We Do, Research, Statistics/Data. Retrieved from https://ncea.acl.gov/whatwedo/research/statistics.html#11
Wangmo, T., Nordström, K., & Kressig, R. W. (2017). Preventing elder abuse and neglect in geriatric institutions: Solutions from nursing care providers. Geriatric Nursing, 38(5), 385-392.
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