What is Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can be described as any action or lack of action that puts the health or well-being of an elderly person at risk. The abuse is often carried out by a family member whom the victim trusts.
Home Family Violence Elder Abuse
Four Main Components of Elder Abuse
Four Main Components of Elder Abuse
Causing physical pain and injury – this includes aggressive behaviours such as beatings, torture, being locked up as well as sexual abuse.
SIGNS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE
- History of previous injuries, untreated old injuries, and multiple injuries especially at various stages of healing
- Delay in reporting injury/illness and seeking treatment
- Unexplained cuts and/or bruises
- Unexplained burns
- Unexplained fractures
- Unexplained hair loss
- Signs of sexual abuse such as, torn or stained underclothing, or pain or itching in the genitals
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Emotional and psychological abuse refers to verbal or non-verbal acts which cause pain and distress to the elderly family member. These include verbal attacks such as threats, insults and humiliation as well as actions that cause a strong fear of violence, being left alone, and/or shame and harassment.
SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE
- Nervousness or anger
- Drug / Alcohol abuse
- Headaches, chest pain, palpitation
- Neurotic traits (e.g. sleep disorders)
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Suicidal behaviour / tendency
This is the deliberate refusal to meet the elderly’s needs such as the failure to provide food, access to housing, clothing, medical care, supervision, safe care and financial support which is required for the elderly’s safety and welfare.
This is when the family member who is responsible for the care of an elderly person, purposely rejects the elder.
SIGNS OF NEGLECT / OR ABANDONMENT
- Unexplained cuts and scratches
- Body odour
- Unexplained fractures and/or sprains
- Poor nutrition
- Poor hygiene
- Unexplained rashes
- Soiled / unsuitable clothing
- Misuse of medication / over-medication
- Medical needs / physical problems ignored
- Pressure sores
- Living in filthy conditions
- Constant lack of supervision, especially in dangerous activities or for long periods
The Causes of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse and neglect can be set off by the individual qualities of the abuser and/or victim. For example, the abuser may be going through a life crisis or the victim may have a difficult personality. It can also be caused by outside factors that worsen the situation.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ELDER ABUSE VICTIMS
Victims of elder abuse may refuse to admit their mistreatment. There are many reasons for this: fear of rejection and disruption of their lives; embarrassment or shame; worry about their family’s privacy or that legal action might be taken against their abuser. Some victims feel that they deserve the abuse and simply accept it. For the mentally challenged, they may not be aware that they are abused and may not be able to report the abuse.
Victims may be:
- Easily taken advantaged of
- Socially isolated
- Physically / Mentally impaired
- Dependent on their caregiver
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ABUSERS OF ELDERLY VICTIMS
Abusers may be:
- Caregivers or relatives who defend their actions or deny that they have harmed the aged victim.
- Lonely and cut off from society
- A person with a history of family violence- likely to suffer from an alcohol and/or drug addiction
- Bad at communicating with elders
- Suffering from a mental health problem
- Financially dependent on the elderly victim
- Facing caregiver stress
LOOKING OUT FOR ELDER ABUSE
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction