Ethical Issues in Gerontology
Nowadays, nurses who provide elder care are faced with several legal and ethical dilemmas in a daily basis. Besides to the social and legal dilemma it creates, elder abuse, neglect or also known as elder mistreatment is a massive health care crisis that can lead to long term health complications and even death (Fulmer & Greenberg, 2012). The purpose of this paper is to review the literature and examine the nature of elder abuse in relation to its legal and ethical implications. Furthermore, this paper is intended to discuss the causes and types of elder abuse; professional responsibilities related to reporting, documenting, and intervening in cases of suspected abuse. Finally, this paper will highlight some strategies that will potentially prevent elder abuse. Literature Review
CINAHL and Pub Med databases were used to find the existing studies about elder abuse and the legal and ethical responsibilities of health care providers and family caregivers. The keywords such as elder abuse, legal, ethical and healthcare providers obligations and responsibility were use to search the data. Elder abuse is a medical and social concern. As a result many studies are found in social study journals and books. The true national incidence or prevalence of elder abuse is not known although various studies have attempted to specify the size of the problem. However, all the studies found highlights that it is a serous health problem that affects the quality of life many older adults. The studies regarding elder abuse and mistreatment are incorporated through out the paper. Overview discussion of elder abuse
Elder abuse is defined as “an act of physical or mental maltreatment that threatens or causes harm to an elderly person whether by action or inaction” (Luggen & M, 2001, p. 216). It can involve both intentional and unintentional acts that cause bodily harm or create a serious risk of harm such as emotional abuse, exploitation, physical abuse, sexual abuse as well as the failure of a family or paid formal caregiver to provide an elder under their care with basic needs leading to neglect or abandonment (Lachs & Pillmer, 2004). Canada is home to an increasingly aging society. In 2009, statistics Canada reported that 13% of the Canadian population was over the age of 65. Today, theses fast growing populations of older adults are often more visible, active, and live independently than ever before. However for some older adults instead of enjoying their late life, behind drawn curtains and closed doors they are becoming victims of elder abuse (Statistics Canada, 2010). Elder abuse is not a new phenomenon. Although, the true prevalence and incidence of elder abuse is not well known due to factors such as under-reporting, denial both by the victim and perpetrator, confusion about what constitutes abuse, or a general lack of awareness of warning signs about the issue, it happens in all communities, among every race, culture, and religion (Ebersole, Hess, Touhy, Jett, & Luggen, 2008). Currently, this serous health problem is recognized worldwide as a persistent and rising problem, valuing the attention of health care providers who provide medical care for seniors, governments as well as the general public(Lachs & Pillmer, 2004). According to The World Health Organization (WHO) it is estimated that between 4 and 6 per cent of older adults worldwide have suffered some form of elder abuse —either physical, psychological, emotional, financial or due to neglect. In Canada, the overall rate of police reported violence against elders has increased by 20% between 1998 and 2005 (Statistics Canada, 2010). Similarly, in the year 2009 7,900 incidents of elder abuse were reported to police, a number that had increased by 14% since 2004 (Statistics Canada, 2010). Although a steady rise of reported cases are seen, cultural influences may affect how...