Victimization of the Elderly

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Working your whole life, supporting your family, getting the children through school and college, walking your daughter down the aisle, entering retirement, and having saved enough money to travel the world and enjoy new experiences are the goals many of the elderly have dreamt of much of their lives. Instead of living their dreams, the elderly – those 65 and older – have become a target of crime. The United States Department of Justice reports that “persons 65 or older experienced about 2.1 million criminal victimizations.” Most of these crimes were committed as robberies and thefts so the perpetrator could get money. During these crimes, 33% of the elderly victims were injured with 9% of the injuries being serious, 19% received medical care and 14% needed hospital care. Most of the assault crimes against the elderly were done by strangers, 52%, but surprisingly acquaintances committed 36% (US Department of Justice, 1994).

These victimizations occur across many cultural and gender lines. For example, elderly men are victims more so than elderly women, Blacks are more likely to be victims than whites, elderly persons who are separated or divorced are victimized more than any other marital status, and elderly city residents are more likely to be victims than those who live in rural areas (US Department of Justice, 1994). Older adults who had experienced a violent crime were more likely than those with physical and cognitive impairments to enter a nursing home” (Beck, 2010) in order to reduce fear.

Crime is just one way that the elderly are victimized. When an elderly person is mistreated or neglected by either a caregiver, relative or friend they are also a victim. This mistreatment can include being abused, whether it is in the threats or actual physical violence, dealing with verbal abuse, having their finances exploited, or violating their individual rights. The people who treat elders like this are abusers, and may be the person responsible for their daily care. The elderly may be hit, left alone for long periods of time with no one to talk to or share time with, or they may be neglected to the point where food is withheld from them, they do not receive their medication in a timely fashion or they are not helped (if necessary) with bathing and personal hygiene (Crime Victim Services, 2011). In a national representative study conducted of 5,777 elderly people, 11% of the elders reported that they had been the victim of some form of abuse within the last year (Acierno, Hernandez-Tejada, Muzzy, & Steve, 2009): that is 635 people over the age of 65 that were willing to report some sort of abuse. It is believed that figures often underestimate the actual violence against our elders “because most abusive acts take place in private, and victims are often unable or unwilling to complain” (Berk, 2010).

Another form of the elderly being victimized is that of “granny dumping” (Berk, 2010). This happens when caretakers take elders who may be suffering from dementia or other severe illnesses or disabilities to emergencies rooms and leave them – either in the waiting room or in the examination room (Berk, 2010). “According to one U.S. hospital survey, between 100,000 and 200,000 older adults…are left in hospital waiting rooms each year” (Berk, 2010).

A nurse would not be someone who would be thought of as being someone who would neglect or withhold care from an elderly person purposefully. But earlier this year, 87 year-old Lorraine Bayless died as a result of CPR being withheld from her by a licensed nurse at the elder care facility where she lived. A nurse at the Glenwood Gardens senior living facility in Bakersfield California not only refused to initiate CPR herself, but she also refused the plea from the 911 dispatcher to hand the phone to anyone who was in the area or passerby so the dispatcher could instruct them to start CPR until the emergency crews could arrive. The reason the nurse did nothing...
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