The world we live in today was formed by those who came before us. The elderly in our community may be old and grey, but they can pour so much wisdom into the younger generations. Unfortunately, we don’t always give the elderly the respect they deserve. In fact, elder abuse is a hidden problem in our society and one that needs to be brought into the light.
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 6 older adults worldwide have been abused in the past year. Abuse comes in many different forms including physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect/abandonment.
Signs of physical abuse include someone hitting, pushing, or kicking the elderly. There can also be an inappropriate use of drugs or restraints.
Psychological/emotional abuse happens when a person insults, threatens or humiliates the elderly. They may also exhibit controlling behaviors and leave the elderly in confinement and isolation.
Sexual abuse is any sexual contact someone has with the elderly without their consent.
Financial exploitation is categorized as someone misusing or stealing an elderly person’s money or assets.
Neglect or abandonment happens when an elderly person is not provided food, housing, or medical care.
Elder abuse can happen just once or be something that is repeatedly done. It is most commonly done by family members or healthcare workers. When an elder is abused at home, 90 percent of the abusers are family members that can be their adult children or spouses. Elder abuse can also happen in institutions like nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Staff members at these institutions have admitted to these statistics: 36 percent of them witnessed physical abuse, 10 percent of them committed physical abuse, and 40 percent of them committed psychological abuse.
Even though elder abuse is common, only about 4 percent of it is reported. This is due to the elderly having fear of retaliation, worrying about getting their abuser in trouble, they may be mentally incapable of reporting it, or they may feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Elder abuse can have physical consequences such as injuries, lasting disabilities, and worsened health conditions. The abuse can also have psychological effects like anxiety, loneliness, or loss of trust, dignity, and hope. One study that tracked older people for over 13 years found that victims of elder abuse were twice as likely to die early compared to those who did not report abuse. Older people who have dementia are at an even higher risk, as many as 2 out of 3 people with dementia have been abused.
So, what can be done to stop elder abuse? Well, the public can watch for signs of elder abuse and learn how to get help for the individual and report the abuse. Older people can stay connected to their family/friends, learn more about their rights, use professional services for support where available, and make sure their financial and legal affairs are in order. Family and informal caregivers can lower the risk of committing abuse by getting help from family/friends, taking breaks when needed, and getting support from local health or social services.
Another great way you can help prevent elder abuse is to make sure others are informed on this issue. Please share this story to spread awareness on elder abuse and help to end this problem.
[Source/World Health Organization]
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Dear Sister and Brother,
1. God wants us to care for others.
2. We can learn so much by listening to those around us.
3. I pray that whatever you are going through in your life, God will show you a way through it and that you be showered with His mercy and grace.
Please share this story to spread awareness on elder abuse and help to end this problem.
God bless you and your family,
Aaron Tabor, MD