Elder Abuse

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In the Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, an article entitled “Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation: Considerations in Aging With Lifelong Disabilities”, it is reported that there has been prevalence of abuse, neglect and exploitation of older adults that have lifelong developmental disabilities. According to Ansello & O’Neill (2010), a lifelong developmental disability is defined as a chronic impairment that occurs before the age of 22 that may affect functional abilities in matters of “self-care, learning, mobility, language, economic self-sufficiency, capacity for independent living and other everyday skills” (p. 106). This can include individuals with Down syndrome, autism, deafness, epilepsy, polio, cerebral palsy, and many other conditions. Individuals are living longer with developmental disabilities, but as years living increases, the prevalence of maltreatment also increases.
Victims of abuse experience physical and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, victimization by multiple perpetrators, continued incidences over long periods of time, and inadequate/inappropriate healthcare. There is a greater risk of abuse for those with lifelong developmental disabilities because intellectual and/or physical impairments may lessen the victim’s self-protective abilities making them opportunistic victims since they will not fight back or tell anyone. Also, intellectual and/or physical impairments may also make the victim rely on others outside the family, and that could mean someone who is abusive. Healthcare providers and other professionals often fail to: recognize or respond to maltreatment, and also to recognize misleading caregiver behaviors and statements about abuse and neglect (including using the disability to explain away or minimize the person’s condition) (Ansello & O’Neill, 2010, p. 110-111).
It is found that those with developmental disabilities develop depression and posttraumatic stress disorder at higher rates than the general population and these

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