Abusing the Elderly:
Consequences and its Victims
Elderly abuse happens in the United States every day and it is an unforgivable crime. The elderly cannot take proper care of themselves and need someone else to care for them with basic necessities such as shelter, water and food. Sometimes this is not the case and the elderly are neglected of these basic needs. That’s not all, they are physically hurt, bruised and even broken bones can occur. They are emotionally harassed and humiliated. Although all this happens every day there are many of these cases that does not reach the proper authorities since they are not given a chance to. Ways to avoid this is to maintain an open communication and visit as often as possible in order to know what’s going on and for them to let you know if everything is fine. Elderly abuse is punishable by incarceration as any other type of abuse depending on the case. Elderly abuse is unforgivable and shouldn’t happen to anyone.
Keywords: Abuse, Elderly, law, Neglect, Incarceration, Caregiver
No one likes to be hurt or abuse in any way possible but it happens. It happens to everyone even people we think that are being cared for by their caregivers. Abuse can happen suddenly or very often, sometimes abuse goes on for a very long time and nothing gets done about it. Abuse can happen to anyone and it can take many forms, from physical to mental abuse, to neglect and even financial. The worse type of abuse to my opinion is elderly abuse, since these people cannot take care of themselves and depend on other for virtually everything possible. “Elderly abuse happens every day and it really gets to the right authorities. As elders become more physically frail, they’re less able to stand up to bullying and or fight back if attacked” (Robinson, 2011). Many seniors all over the world are being abuse or harmed and most cases go unreported because they are unable to make a claim. “An estimated 1.5 million older Americans were subjected to physical, psychological, or financial abuse or suffered serious, even life threatening, neglect in 1992” (Karen, 2010). Elders get abuse by almost anyone, this includes their caregivers taking care of them either at their own houses or a home for the elderly. Children and grandchildren also contribute on this type of abuse and even their own partners such as a wife or a spouse can partake in such violence. Even in the facilities where they are design to help and protect the elderly also contribute to their abuse. The victims of this crime are not able to fend for themselves therefore the abuse will continue until someone who cares for them finds out. Neglect or abandonment by their caregivers is a major problem with the abuse of the elderly; I do hope someday tougher regulations and laws are put into place since my grandfather passed away due to neglect from his caregiver at a hospital. This crime is very common and it happens almost everywhere in the U.S. I’ll explain with further details the causes and signs of ELDER ABUSE
specific types of abuse on the elderly abuse and why it happens, also methods of preventions and the resources available to assist the elderly of this heinous crime. “ Research indicates that more than one in ten elder may experience some type of abuse, but only one in five cases or fewer are reported” (Elder Abuse, 2010). To begin, signs of elderly abuse can be caught very early if we maintain communication with them as long as they are in a facility or a Home for the elderly. Even if it is in a hospital casual visits is recommended in order to know what’s going on with their treatment or to see how they are doing. Abuse comes in many forms, physical abuse is the most visible one, since “unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on two side of the body” (Robinson, 2011). One of the most important sign of elderly abuse is if the caregiver doesn’t want you to be alone with the senior who can say something against them if they have been neglecting or abusing them physically. Physical abuse on an elder can cause broken bones and even dislocations and sprains on the body. It is one of the worse abuses the elderly can receive since they are so fragile but it happens very often and it goes unreported most of the time. Neglect is the other type of abuse elderly receives a lot more than any other abuse. Failure to care properly for the elder by not providing the necessities such as safety, food, water and shelter happens to the least expected. Anyone who goes through this should feel as if they wait for death. Neglect is a very powerful way to destroy their life little by little. There is also the emotional psychological abuse which its use to intimidate, harasses and humiliate the elderly. There is also the self neglect in which “The older person fails to meet their own physical, psychological, and/or social needs” (Woolf, 1998). All these types of abuse are ELDER ABUSE
caused by the lack of training on the staff and lack of love and patience on the family side. If the elderly were taken care of appropriately none of these issues would happen to them.
Secondly, preventing this type of abuse is a most. No one likes to abuse no matter who you are or how old you are and preventing abuse on the elderly is very important. The elderly cannot defend themselves and needs us to do it for you. Simply put if you cannot handle the elderly, you shouldn’t work with them. In other words, extensive background check on violent history should be use on everyone who works with the elderly. Anyone working with them should go through a trial period of about a year with various seniors in order to see if any neglect or violence will happen towards them. In order to prevent elderly abuse it has to be stopped on the root. Having them speak to you as much as possible about the caregiver should give you an idea if they are been abuse or neglected. Any kind of abuse or neglect should be told to the local law enforcements right away in case of any immediate danger to any elderly person. There is even a Long Term Care Ombudsman Program that helps assist cases of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or other facility. Helping the elderly is not a difficult task. There are many laws related to elder abuse from state to federal law. “The federal Older Americans Act (42 U.S.C. § 3001 et seq., as amended) provides definitions of elder abuse and authorizes the use of federal funds for the NCEA and for certain elder abuse awareness and coordination activities in states and local communities” (Stiegel, 2006). Criminal laws apply to all types of elderly abuse. Penalties will vary on the crime and include incarceration. Anyone who suspects elder abuse should always report the problem right away. In a nursing home or elder facility the Ombudsman website will ELDER ABUSE
help with the reporting of any suspected abuse on the elderly. We can also keep in contact and maintain communication in order to help decrease the isolation they must feel when living in a nursing home. This also gives them a chance to talk about anything that might be going on that they don’t like. You can even try to volunteer and be involved in programs that can support the elderly or the nursing home in which your love one reside. “Americans older than 65 will triple by 2030, it is likely that the problem will intensify in coming years” (Karen, 2010) I do believe that we need to educate the abuser how to treat the elderly better in order for this circle to stop. Even if an elderly abuser is caught in the act and sent to jail, after they are release without any kind of education towards treating the elderly right, it is most likely that they will go back to their old ways and still mistreat the elderly. If penalties are also higher for the offender then they will think about it twice before they hurt another elder of the community. In my opinion this crime goes unreported too much and something needs to happen in order for this to change. If by 2030 we are supposed to have a lot more seniors then training and selecting the right people to care for them is a must. Also family members who also abuse the elderly in their family should be punish with a harsh sentence as if they were committing murder since all they are doing is reducing the elder life span by stressing them and hurting them even more.
Elder Abuse. (2010, March 3). Retrieved August 15, 2011, from NCEA: http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ncearoot/Main_Site/pdf/publication/NCEA_WhatIsAbuse-2010.pdf Robinson, L. (2011, June 1). Elder Abuse and Neglect. Retrieved August 17, 2011, from HelpGuide: http://helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm Stiegel, L. (2006, December 31). Laws Related to Elder Abuse. Retrieved August 15, 2011, from NCEA: http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/NCEAroot/Main_Site/Library/Laws/InfoAboutLaws_08_08.aspx Woolf, L. M. (1998, January 1). Elder Abuse and Neglect. Retrieved August