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The Problem of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a much bigger problem than many people realize.  It is a form of abuse that is considered vastly underreported.  While it is estimated that one in every ten elderly individuals has experienced elder abuse in the last year, this number may actually be much higher.

Who Are the Victims of Elder Abuse?

The older a person is, the greater their risk for elder abuse.  Women are also disproportionately more likely to suffer from elder abuse and neglect. It is estimated that women are more prone to psychological and physical damage resulting from abuse.  Other groups of individuals with a higher risk of experiencing elder abuse include socially isolated people, individuals who require greater than average assistance with daily living activities, those with disabilities, people who live with someone that has substance abuse issues or mental illness, and those with dementia.

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Who is Abusing the Elderly?

The vast majority (approximately 90%) of perpetrators of elder abuse and neglect are people who have close ties with the elderly individual, such as a caretaker or a family member.  While it is never acceptable or excusable to abuse anyone, experts suspect that some individuals who inflict abuse on an elder are ill-equipped to handle the role that they have been thrust into.

Nursing Home Based Abuse

In nursing homes, it is more common to see sexual or physical elder abuse.  The abuse is not always inflicted by a caregiver in this scenario.  Sometimes, the abuse is done by one elderly resident to another.  It is not uncommon for verbal abuse to be observed among elderly residents.  When the abuse is inflicted by caretakers, this can be the result of understaffed and undertrained facilities.

Solving the Problem of Elder Abuse & Nursing Home Abuse

It is clear that there is a significant problem with elders suffering from abuse. While this problem cannot be solved overnight, increasing research efforts may have a positive impact on reducing the prevalence of elder abuse in our society.