Elder abuse refers to the intentional or unintentional harm, exploitation, or neglect of an older person by themselves, trusted individuals, acquaintances, or strangers in a home or institutionalized setting. Such actions violate an elderly person’s fundamental rights to safety, privacy, and expression. Elder abuse is a serious problem in the India, UK, United States, and many more parts of the world. More than 500,000 cases of abuse of adults aged 60 and over are reported annually. Sadly, in most of these incidents, the perpetrators of abuse are members of the victim’s own family. It is better to take Online Counseling from an expert in the case of Elder abuse.
TYPES OF ELDER ABUSE
Elder abuse can take many forms. The most common types of elder abuse include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect or abandonment, financial exploitation, sexual abuse, and health care fraud and abuse.
Physical elder abuse involves the intentional use of force against an older person that results in bodily pain, injury, or permanent damage. While abusive behavior such as pushing, shoving, or hitting household objects may easily come to mind, less obvious acts of physical abuse include improper use of medication, excessive use of restraints, or improper posture of elderly people.
Emotional or psychological abuse can be verbal or non-verbal, resulting in emotional or psychological distress for victims of abuse. Spoken or written threats, taunts, and constant criticism are widespread forms of verbal abuse. Older people experience non-verbal abuse when they are ignored, isolated from loved ones, or terrorized with threatening looks or gestures.
Neglect is the most common form of elder abuse, accounting for more than half of all reported cases. Gross negligence occurs when an individual intentionally refuses or unintentionally fails to fulfill their caring responsibilities. Ignoring or fervently denying the fact that an older person may require more care often results in physical or mental injury to the older person. Treating elderly people like leftovers often becomes common among young generations. Giving love to our elders is the form of repaying what they have done in our lives to be the better person we are now.
Because older individuals may be physically and/or mentally unable to manage their finances or assets, they often become victims of financial exploitation. Fake contests, fraudulent charities, and bogus investment opportunities are often targeted at the elderly. Dishonest and unethical caregivers can misuse or steal a victim’s cash, checks, credit cards, or even their identity.
Although sexual abuse in the senior population is less prevalent than other forms of abuse, it does occur. Sexual assaults on older people include unauthorized and inappropriate physical contact. Forcing an older person to undress, watch sexual acts, or view pornographic material can also be considered sexually abusive in some cases.
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Health care fraud and abuse occur when unscrupulous doctors, nurses, or other hospital staff take advantage of older people for personal gain. These professional care providers may engage in unethical activities such as overcharging for health care, billing for care that was not provided, overmedication, under medication, prescribing false medications, and facilitating Medicaid fraud.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of elder abuse can be difficult to identify because they can be similar to the expected signs of physical and cognitive decline usually associated with old age. This fact, coupled with the caregiver’s reassurance that everything is okay, can easily contribute to a loved one missing the warning signs of abuse. Typical symptoms of abuse include obvious tension between caregiver and care recipient, as well as drastic personality changes in the older person.
Depending on the type of abuse an older person is experiencing, they may also show specific symptoms. Unexplained signs of physical injury such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, scars, sprains, broken bones, or dislocations may indicate physical abuse. Other warning signs of abusive behavior include signs of restraints on the wrists or ankles, too much or too little medication remaining (based on dosing instructions), and the caregiver refusing to allow the older person to see visitors alone.
Elderly people who have been emotionally abused may exhibit behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, not speaking openly, or expressing a desire to hurt themselves or someone else. Genital bruising, unusual vaginal or anal bleeding, unexplained STDs, and bloody or torn underwear can all be indicators of sexual abuse. If an elderly person has been left unbathed for extended periods of time, experiences sudden weight loss, is allowed to live in an unsafe environment, or is routinely left alone in public spaces, then there is a high likelihood that the elder will become a victim of neglect. Large withdrawals from a senior’s bank account, suspicious financial activity (such as ATM withdrawals while the senior is bedridden), and sudden changes in financial documents may indicate financial exploitation. Duplicate billing, overcrowded nursing facilities, and inappropriate or inadequate answers to health care questions can signal health care fraud and abuse.
There are many factors that could potentially contribute to the occurrence and perpetuation of elder abuse. If the caregiver is untrained, unable to cope with stress, receives little support, or views their caregiving responsibilities as a burden, then the possibility that the caregiver may turn to elder abuse increases. Debilitating illnesses, the older person’s history with the caregiver, the social isolation of the older person and caregiver from other individuals, as well as the older person’s own aggressive tendencies can also trigger the onset of abuse.
Several strategies can be used to reduce the likelihood of elder abuse. These include as follows:
- Listen carefully to the elder.
- Ask family members and friends for help with care.
- Use of local daycare programs for adults.
- Attending care support groups.
- Be alert for signs and symptoms of abuse.
- Get involved when abuse is suspected.
If you know or strongly suspect that a family member or friend is a victim of elder abuse, you can call your local Adult Protective Services (APS). A quick online APS search can help you connect with your local or state agency. APS will conduct a thorough investigation of the case and provide all necessary services. If you discover abuse at a professional healthcare facility, you can call your local ombudsman or local law enforcement.
ELDERLY TYPE THERAPY
Finding a qualified therapist is an effective and practical way to help older people who have experienced abuse. Therapists can help vulnerable older adults resolve tensions, cope with trauma, assess available resources, and develop plans for safety. Sessions are available in individual, family, or group settings, Face to Face, or Virtually totally up-to-the-person. In therapy, victims of abuse can overcome feelings of rejection or shame, gain valuable education in the area, and build stronger social support networks.
Indian Provisions Discussing Regarding Elder Abuse
The question arises that what are we doing to handle this problem and do we have any provisions regarding the same in our country that resolve such kind of problem. Some of the acts and bills that have been introduced in this regard are-
Maintenance of Parents Act (2007) – This law was amended twice, first in 2013 and then in 2018. The original Act was directed that the sons have a legal obligation towards taking care of their parents and it’s high time that children should be responsible for their actions. Now after an amendment in 2013, the parents could complain against them and the sons could be held legally for not supporting their parents. In the amendment of 2018, daughters and sons-in-law and similarly sons and daughter-in-law were also held responsible for supporting their parents.
Parents and Senior Citizens Act (2007) – is a bill that makes it a legal obligation for children and legal guardians to provide maintenance to older adults in their families. It permits state and central governments to start and maintain old age homes in each district and in every state. Senior citizens can apply for a monthly allowance from their children, in case they are not able to support themselves and there are various pension schemes for senior citizens. The children or heirs could be punished for not providing maintenance to older adults of their family
Article 41 of the Constitution secures the right of senior citizens to employment, education, and public assistance. It also ensures that the state must uphold these rights in cases of disability, old age, or sickness of elder people.
Don’t assume that the abused person will reach out for help if they need it. Dependent elderly people who experience abuse often do not report the problem due to fear of retribution from the caregiver, fear of being placed in a nursing home, feelings of shame, or reluctance to cause legal problems for their family members.
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