Elder Abuse- An Important Issue

Elder abuse is increasing day by day. More than 76% of the elder people are found to be the victims of elder abuse. Elder abuse is considered as mistreatments with the older people that result in loss or harm to these older people. The elder abuse could be of different forms. The essay discusses the overall concept of elder abuse, its effects, and the initiatives that have been taken by different organizations and government to minimize this issue. It is a fact that elder abuse increases the fear among the elder people which increases stress and directly affects their health and body.

Elder abuse refers to a form of mistreatment that may result in loss or harm to any older aged person. This term “elder abuse” was formulated and adopted during the 1980s that describes the situation of family violence which involves older people and is being used in several countries (Clancy, 2015). The definition that is used in Victoria has been adopted from the ANPEA (Australian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse). ANPEA defines Elder abuse as “Any of the acts that occur within a relation where there is trust, and it results in a kind of harm or loss to an older person. Elder abuse could be sexual, financial, social, physical, psychological, and/or neglect” (Victoria, 2011).

The WHO defines Elder Abuse as a violation of the human rights that may result in a significant cause of illness, injury, isolation, productivity loss, and despair (Perel-Levin, 2008). Elder abuse is now considered as a complex issue that challenges the views regarding the nature of the families and the older people’s standards within our community. In several cases, both the perpetrator and the victim will not be aware of what all is occurring is actually an abuse. The elder abuse may be in the following forms:

Physical abuse refers to the use of physical force which may result in any form of injury, impairment or pain. This form of abuse involves assault and any inappropriate restraint.

Sexual abuse refers to the non-consensual sexual contact any form with an older person.

Psychological abuse refers to a willful infliction of emotional or mental anguish by humiliation, thereat, or any other form of nonverbal or verbal conduct.

Financial abuse can be defined as an improper or illegal use of the property, funds or resources of an older person.

Social abuse is a form of elder abuse that involves forced isolation of the older people, sometimes with an additional effect of use from the outside scrutiny and stopping or restricting their social contact with the external environment.

Last but not the least; Neglect is such form of elder abuse where the caregiver is unable to fulfill his/her responsibilities or duties of providing care.

The most important issue that is generally found in the victim who is experiencing elder abuse is his deteriorating health. The person always remain stress and in a fear of harm or loss (Hafemeister, 2003). There are several signs that can be used to recognize the form of abuse that the victim is going through.

In the cases of Physical abuse there are visible sign on the body of an individual that includes scars, bruises, broken bones or sprains. In situations where physical abuse is highly prominent, subtle signs of restraint could also be found.

Emotional or psychological abuse is usually accompanied by other forms of abuse that can be identified with the changes in the behaviour and personality of the victim. It is also possible that the elder may reveal signs of mimicking dementia, like mumbling or rocking.

Financial abuse as compared to the other forms of abuse is a more delicate form of that is a bit hard to be identified. Some of the basic indications of this form of abuse include significant amount of withdrawals from banks, unpaid bills, unnecessary goods or services, and missing money or belongingness from home.

Like physical abuse, sexual abuse can also be detected with the help of visible indications on the body such as marks around genital area or breasts, bleeding, inexplicable infections, torn underclothing, etc.

Neglect abuse is generally inflicted by oneself or the caregiver. Indications of neglect elder abuse involves dehydration, malnutrition, unsafe living conditions, poor hygiene, and non compliance to the prescribed form of medication.

Apart from observing the indications and signs among the elderly people, abuse can be identified by monitoring the changes in the behaviour of the caregiver. For instance, the caregiver disallows the elder people to speak or meet any external people. Moreover, there is lack of affection or indifference towards the elders and considering them as a burden.

The elder abuse has a significant effect over the elder people which could become severe and would be irreversible and could be even long term.

The main issue that is prevalent in solving this issue is their age. Due to their increasing age, people have to face several issues and make it even more difficult to support them and solve the issues that they come across due to the abuse. In most of the countries, psychologists that are specialised for helping the elder people not only help the elderly but also analyses their needs and the problems that they are facing. It’s really sad to say that almost all of the elder people have to face elderly abuse and their effects are for long term.

Elder abuse may result in isolation, depression, and health issues. It has been found that most of the elders are expected to live shorter life due to the stress that is put on them. As per the reports, 76% of elders are the victims of elder abuse who live at least 7-9 years less than the people whole are not the victims of elder abuse (Perel-Levin, 2008).

Another major driving factor is the relationship of the abuser and the elder. If the abuser is one of the members of the family or is close to the elder person, then the effects of the abuse are significant and have direct impact over the life of the elder (JACKSON & HAFEMEISTER, 2013). In cases, where abuser is a professional nurse at the hospital, the effects aren’t much large, but it doesn’t mean that this abuse doesn’t have any effects. The main reason for the difference in both of these effects is the emotions attached with the close relatives. Though the scars that are left over the bodies of the elder people can be cured with time, but the marks that are driven with emotions and trust cannot be reversed till the last breath (Robinson, Saisan, MSW, & Segal, 2015). It leaves them a memory of what has happened and what still can happen with them. During this stage, the elder people become wary about others, in regard of their help with necessary tasks, which may ultimately leads them to severe depression which may result in suicide, psychological problems, and even death.

The government of Victoria is committed to empower the older people so as to maintain a healthy environment for them and allow them to make informed choices regarding the appropriate healthcare for their needs. They ensure that the people in Victoria get access to the optimal wellbeing and outcomes that is important for the social and economic future of Victoria.

The government of Australia has formulated clear plan for prevention of elder abuse and support them. This plan reflects the commitment of the government towards the delivery of the optimal possible healthcare outcomes and ensures the health of the people (Victoria, 2011). The plan is directed in such a way that it is:

  • Responsive to the needs of the people

  • Improves the health experiences of the people in Victoria

  • Increases the financial sustainability and the productivity

  • Implementing continuous innovations and improvements.

The health plan of Victoria, Victorian health priorities framework 2012–22, offers an opportunity for considering the system of health as a whole, and it includes private as well as non-profit sector, and working effectively to achieve the shared objectives.

The major principles of this plan include:

  • Universal access

  • Focusing on the needy people and providing family centred care

  • Decision making process that is evidence based

  • Providing equitable outcomes across the continuum of health services

Also, the Elder abuse prevention unit is an active organization in Australia that is focused to promote the rights of the older people to allow them to live free from the abuse. The unit was established in the year 1997 with an objective of providing a state wide service to respond to the situations of elder abuse (EAPU, 2004).