Elder Abuse in the Family
The elderly occupy a unique social niche in American society. Many are, and continue to be, active, involved, and independent individuals. However, due to disease processes and normal physiological changes, many elders experience what is euphemistically referred to as a "second childhood." Physically, mentally, and/or emotionally, they become dependent upon others for one or many activities of daily living. This dependence, usually in combination with one or more other variables, leaves the elderly vulnerable to abuse. The abusive situation could be a physical abuse, a sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, or even a self-neglect. Each year hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected and exploited by family members and others (AOA, 2003).
Elderly abuse has been accounted for in nearly one-third of the nursing homes in the United States. "Often, the elder abuse violations caused actual harm to residents or placed them in immediate threat of death or serious injury .
. . [and] at least one-half million of our senior citizens were abused or neglected in their own homes."(Brayton Purcell, 2003, Para 1) Understanding the major impact on our elderly will set up a direction of intervention to hopefully eliminate or decrease the chances or possibility of elderly abuse in the United States.
There are several avenues of community services available for abusive situations. The first avenue of intervention is for the elderly person to recognize and understand that they are in an abusive situation that is not going to change unless they opt to take the first step. Encouragement and education may be the best interventions that a healthcare provider can initiate. Educating the elderly that abuse is not normal and the abuse is not his/her fault may help to encourage the client to take steps to...