Elder abuse and mistreatment have always been problems in the United States of America. However, even today it becomes a growing issue, and it will only increase and spread unless the society and government take proper measures to prevent it. For the avoidance of this awful situation, it is vital to train and control nurses and health care professionals to provide efficient treatment of elderly people. Studies report that the problem of elder abuse in not fully recognized, hidden, and the mass media does not appropriately report the occasions of such mistreatment. There is a high requirement in organized programs of facilitating the training of health care personnel. This term paper will discuss the definitions and demographic occurrence, as well as the significance of the elderly people protection throughout the world, and apply theoretical approaches to the better understanding of the problem. Moreover, it will also examine the current interventions and shortfalls, ways of problem’s prevention, educational and criminal justice issues in the community and residential care.
Definitions of Elder Abuse
Governmental bodies and researchers have always been influencing the methods of elder mistreatment, abuse, and neglect. According to the Elder Abuse Prevention, Identification and Treatment Act, enforced in 1985, abuse is an intended infliction of bodily damage, isolation, bullying, and heavy punishment resulting in physical harm. The Act further states that health care workers may deprive elderly people of services and goods vital for an avoidance of mental and physical illnesses. There are also many other definitions that replace the term “abuse” with the notion of medical personnel’s failure of meeting the requirements or mistreatment of an individual. These are the most common definitions that focus less attention on the aspects of the criminal legislation. Therefore, they cannot inflict prejudices and biases.
There are three major types of abusive treatment of elderly people, including domestic and institutional violence, as well as self-depreciation or humiliation. However, there are controversies regarding the problem of defining offensive conduct. The first reason for it is that it is significant to determine who abused person is and who an offender is. The definitions should primarily determine what the legislative acts cover, and who may receive services.
However, it is possible to use and change the terms “neglect”, “abuse”, and “mistreatment”. Firstly, people consider abuse as a more severe concept as it defines the purposeful and voluntary actions. On the contrary, neglect seems a less momentous issue because its aim should not be necessarily deliberate. Finally, mistreatment is synonymous to neglect as both of these terms shows ignorance or an act of omission.
Thus, the NationalCenter on Elder Abuse has characterized seven various types of elder mistreatment, regarding the state and federal definitions. Firstly, physical assault and battery, such as hitting and slapping that result in injuries, and health problems. Secondly, sexual maltreatment may be any contact without the consent of abused person. The third type of elder neglect is an emotional one, causing intense stress and suffering verbally and nonverbally. Fourthly, the person’s exploitation is an illegal way to receive monetary benefits. The fifth type is neglect, including ignorance or failure to provide goods and services to the elderly people. The sixth definition is an abandonment of the elder by the one who has custody or suppose to take care of him/hem. Finally, self-neglect is the elder’s conduct that may endanger his/her physical and mental safety.
Thus, all of the definitions mentioned above are practically helpful and have a positive impact on studies of this topic. Even though defining concepts of elder abuse may face challenges, its typology is vital for the understanding and further research of this social problem.
It is a well-known fact that in the United States of America, more than two million of adults face abusive attitude towards them annually. The common types of violence against them are physical and verbal abuse, as well as ignorance. However, scientists prove that the numbers are much lower, not because there has been a reduction in violence but because the mass media is hiding the truth from people.
For instance, in 1996, the research of the United States Administration on Aging reported that more than half a million people over sixty were victims of various kinds of mistreatment per one year. Comparatively to the Netherlands, residents aging from 69 to 89 experienced four major abusive attitudes, including physical, verbal, financial ones and neglect. There was also a limited amount of data and examples from the UntiedKingdom and Canada. The lack of examples of abusive attitude towards elderly people proves that either people are afraid to report on it or the society wants everyone to believe that the situation improved. However, there are many proving facts that the problem is still increasing. For example, NationalCenter on Elder Abuse conducted a study, which showed that the number of reports on elder mistreatment enhanced by 15% from 2000 until 2004.
The prevalence of this issue in residential care facilities is not clear enough, due to the lack of mutual consent about definitions. In general, everyone understands that the energy neglect in nursing homes is an insufficient care, monitoring, and supervision. However, it is too simple and does not include legal and clinical aspects. Thus, the report from the residential organizations in the CzechRepublic stated that approximately 70% of personnel witnessed the other employee’s abusive conduct towards patients. The elderly people, in their turn, proved only 11% of those instances.
Additionally, there are trends of mistreating people in ethnic minority communities. In the study obtained through the inquiry of nearly six thousand of elder Americans, there were no racial or ethnic distinctions in terms of emotional and sexual mistreatment. In comparison to those two types of abuse, physical one showed different results. The rates of abuse of elderly African-American residents were twice higher than the ones of Caucasians. Another report showed that Mexican-Americans face violence and application of brutal force. For example, thirty-three percent of elderly people at least once experienced an abusive reaction to them. The researchers have found the least amount of data on the Native American victimization. They showed that out of 550 urban American Indians living in Washington, approximately 10% faced physical abuse.
Thus, it is evident that the elder abuse does not depend on gender, race, and age. The offenders are not afraid to harm people who cannot defend themselves, and who deserve the respect to their age. It is vital to state that every person may experience abusive attitude everywhere and, unfortunately, there is nowhere to seek protection from.
Current Interventions and Shortfalls
The abuse of elderly people is an international problem of violation of human rights, associated with many adverse effects. There are high requirements for the comprehensive interventions for elder abuse, addressing psychological, physical, juridical, and social needs of people. The negative outcome of elder abuse generates needs for clarity of health practitioners’ work. Many interventions currently address this universal issue.
Firstly, health care workers must ensure that their services are safe and respectful to all people with various beliefs and opinions. Any interventions of health care providers cannot engender the elderly people. Physical interventions are the most significant ones today. They ensure that people have a right to a safe and non-abusive environment. Moreover, they make health care workers manage all risks factors. These interventions state that the communication with elderly people is as equally important as their actions. For instance, they should use the tone that will convey respectful and non-judgmental relation.
Secondly, health care professionals should pay attention to social and psychological interventions and strictly follow them. According to them, they should offer and provide services and support required by the elderly people. Furthermore, they should remain welcoming, caring, and gentle to those with whom they cooperate.
Thirdly, various training help health officials to develop their professional competence. They should be aware of elderly people’s culture, beliefs, and values, and never judge them for that. The current interventions allow them to develop understanding of the dynamics of elder abuse.
Moreover, health professionals may cooperate with other agencies to ensure the adequate response to the needs of those facing abuse. The key interventions may include support with sufficient care services, transportation, housing and financial income. It is also important to develop the community knowledge and cooperation in responding to people facing elder abuse.
Even though the government closely cooperates with health care workers, there is still a lack of time and resources required to solve this complicated issue. There are currently a few hospital-based interventions that doctors do not estimate or determine elder abuse. The most common shortfall is that the medical staff does not have adequate training and cannot implement safeguarding policies. However, it is an international obligation for all the practitioners to cooperate with their colleges, to improve the social welfare sectors, including financial and legal support. Moreover, they should supervise each other and in case of the violation of their professional code of conduct, they should inform the administration. There will be no changes if one employee will cover illegal actions of another one.
Elder Abuse Prevention
The elder abuse prevention requires the cooperation between various social institutions. There are many ways of problem prevention, but the current interventions had no adequate testing. The majority of preventative methods focus on education and spread of information among both health care workers and a public. In 2003, the National Research Council stated that no one implemented interventions, based on reasons of elder abuse. Moreover, there was no research to evaluate these measures and their effects.
The most efficient method of adult mistreatment is a conduct of legislations. The evaluation of the reviewed reports on all states and the Districts of Columbia showed many substantial facts. Firstly, the whole country requires education regarding elder abuse. While doing it, it is important to take the reports of abusive attitudes into consideration and to increase public awareness of this issue. Moreover, there is a need in truthful and accurate reporting of all violent instances. Finally, it is vital to provide penalties for failure to report mistreatment, and at the same time sufficiently help an investigation. The law should punish the ignorance of the problem severely not only in thirty-three states but throughout the whole country.
The second measure to prevent adult abuse is a respite, which is an intervention to give a temporary relief to the caregiver. There are three types of them, including nursing care during the day, at home, or in various institutions. There is a high desire for such services to those who take care of a dependent family member. It may become a good way to reduce stress and burden, which will improve the relationship between the elderly person and the caregiver, and eliminate all kinds of mistreatment. This social intervention may reduce an adverse psychological effect on an individual who provides care.
Finally, many states require civil and criminal legislative acts in an attempt to prevent abuse, mistreatment, and exploitation. These statutes impose the criminal responsibility of an offender. Other states strive to leave a perpetrator without a heritage of an abused elder. Moreover, if they impose the legal obligations on an adult to provide goods and services for a parent who cannot afford it, there will be less number of instances of violence. Otherwise, it will be easier to prove the person’s guilt legally.
It is vital to compare the crimes made against the elderly people to other severe crimes. There should be laws requiring mandatory reporting authorities on abusive conduct. These reporters may be doctors, health care professionals, law-enforcement officers, relatives, etc. Moreover, the state laws provide immunity from criminal proceedings if a person made a false report in good faith. Another law that has a positive outcome on abuse prevention is legal liability requiring kids to take care of parents in need. These care services include the provision of food, clothing, home, and medical interventions.
If the government and the society cooperatively develop and impose restrictions and laws mentioned above, there will be an evident decline in violence. Together they may prevent crimes against elderly people, and punish those who deserve it.
Education can play a vital role in elder abuse prevention by promoting public awareness of this important issue. Moreover, people who want to make a change and provide services to those who are at risk for abusive attitude, require training to educate them about this problem. Only then, they can define the roles they can play in prevention and treatment of elder abuse.
Elder abuse occurs around the world, and people worry about the increasing number and severity of hidden cases. With the growing amount of elderly population, they face abuse and neglect throughout the United States of America. People should try to intervene and assist those who face abusive attitude towards them.
Those who want to become a helpful resource should become aware of the issue and raise awareness in communities.The goal of such organizations is to increase the knowledge of elder abuse among public. Education is one of the primary and most significant interventions for abuse prevention. It empowers individuals to find solutions to the issues of elder mistreatment. It is significant that people have information and knowledge for better understanding of their civil rights and assist them in seeking help.
Everyone should comprehend that mistreatment of elderly people is a big crime, and even sin. It is a social problem requiring all segments of society to address it. The worst issue that leads to controversy and debates is the lack of accurate definitions of the problem. It is vital to teach people to view elderly people accurately, and encourage respecting them. There are reports that state that people of age are victims who cannot find assistance themselves. Other emphasize that even if they could, they would never do that.
However, with the increased knowledge of aging people will understand that even if people do not report, it does not mean there is no problem. Thus, they should develop trusting relationships with others, who will undoubtedly disclose their mistreatment and will find sufficient help.
Criminal Justice in Community and Residential Care
Recently, scholars have started paying attention to the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse crimes. However, there was a tendency to consider it as a less severe problem. Thus, they suggested that elderly people usually face less violence than the younger ones. The official statistical data is misleading whereas the real-life facts are shocking.
Primarily, the officials reported cases of mistreatment of elderly people to the agencies of adult protection or community organizations. They did not view it as a criminal offence and brought them to the civil courts as an application for damages. At that time, law enforcement had little experience and training and did not take this issues seriously. They played no role in decision-making processes, relying only on the community. In comparison to the current situation, victims, law enforcement officers and community members did not work cooperatively.
The last ten years have showed a significant change to the introduction of new information and consequences that the offenders may face. The increased number of professionals in this problem has proved that only criminal justice system can stop the abuse, protect people, and punish an offender severely.
The criminologists define elder abuse as affecting person criminally, physically, and psychologically. Moreover, they consider it as taking advantage of a person in an unethical financial way. They have estimated an occurrence of the problem in long-term healthcare facilities, including nursing and residential homes. Some scholars suggest that approximately 93 percent of nurses have personally experienced, faced or heard about elder abuse in their health care settings. Another report shows that half of nursing homes in the U.S. experienced mistreatment of people of age at least once.
With the growing number of abuse cases, criminologists increased their understanding of this fundamental issue. In 2001, scholars examined that police chiefs had specific programs aimed at elimination of elder abuse. At the same time, they faced such problems as limited funding, not proper training, and misunderstandings between officers and victims. However, with each year the role of criminal justice system in responding to elder mistreatment only increases and becomes more valuable.
The prominent scholars have listed several theoretical models while taking psychology, sociology, domestic battery in consideration for the better explanation of the reasons for elder abuse. The first approach is a situational one, which states that the person who provides care may result in the creation of a stressed and abusive environment. The second one is exchange theory, addressing the mutual dependence of an offender and a victim. It explains that the problem may occur through responses in family life. The third model is intra-individual dynamics, also known as psychopathology, claiming an interrelation between an offender and abusive situation. The next theory is an intergenerational transmission one, also called social learning, proving that the child may revert to parent’s conduct in adulthood. The fifth one is a feminist approach, paying attention to the imbalance of man and woman’s power. Finally yet importantly is the political-economic model, criticizing individualizes theories and claiming that it is important to blame the society for the conflicts and violence.
Thus, it is evident that it is impossible to explain this complex problem with the help of one theory. They are not able to accommodate the multiple factors that the issue includes. Hence, the scholars have created the ecological theory, which investigated interactions between people and various situations. Thus, it states the violence is a result of an interplay of personal, working, and social aspects. All of the theories mentioned above should focus on such social issues as ageism, marginalization, and sexism. Furthermore, people should not ignore but respect the views and perceptions of people of age.
As the elderly population in the United States of American continues to increase, it is evident that the rates of elder abuse will also grow. However, to understand the severity of the problem, it is vital to comprehend its reasons and typology. Unfortunately, today there are problems with finding an accurate definition to this type of abuse. Secondly, it is a universal problem, and it is impossible to say that the U.S. is the only country suffering from it because the whole world does. The current interventions may be beneficial in finding a solution, but there are still such shortfalls as the lack of financial aid and time. Overall, if the social and governmental institutions will cooperate, there will be no difficulties not only in treatment but also in prevention. Moreover, it is significant to teach those who want to assist people of age. There should be proper training for both health care professionals and ordinary people, who eventually will raise the awareness of this issue. There is not doubt, the easiest and at the same time, the most efficient way to prevent mistreatment is to improve the criminal justice system and its application both in a community and residential care. Finally, due to the increasing number of abuse cases, scholars have raised their understanding of the problem. However, they offer various theoretical models, which cannot adjust all the aspects that the issue includes.