Articles Tagged with elder abuse

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A major obstacle to preventing and stopping elder abuse is that many elderly loved ones do not or cannot report the problem. An elderly person may be afraid of an abuser’s retaliation, and many victims are cognitively or physically incapable of reporting the abuse. In many other cases, the abuser is actually a family member, and the vulnerable adult doesn’t want the abuser to get into trouble.

With all of these issues combined, a disturbing result is that elder abuse and neglect are widely underreported. In fact, according to a 2011 study out of New York, for every known case of elder abuse, an estimated 24 cases were unknown.

Elder abuse and neglect are forms of mistreatment generally defined by intentional actions on the part of a caregiver or some other person in a position of trust. The purpose of those actions may not be to cause personal injury to a vulnerable elder, but a negligent or reckless action that results in harm or risk to an elderly person can be defined as elder abuse. For example, nursing home negligence often results in harm to elderly people.

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Robert Butler was the author of “Why Survive? Being Old in America,” published in 1975. Butler is credited with coining the term “ageism” to describe the act of discriminating against older people. When we think of ageism, it is difficult to separate an ageist mindset from the egregious offense of nursing home abuse.

Members of one of our most vulnerable populations — older adults — are too often neglected and abused in our country’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. While there isn’t yet a solid body of research linking ageism to elder abuse, we as members of society can certainly do our part to raise awareness about the ways in which ageism can lead to the marginalization and mistreatment of vulnerable adults.

For example, ageism rigidly defines older people as senile, slow, old-fashioned and foundationally different from younger people, but the reality is that getting older doesn’t stop your life from being complex and ever changing.

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