A rising problem even in today’s society, elder abuse is the mistreatment or harm of older adults. The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as a single or repeated act occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. This focus on an expectation of trust means that elder abuse can often be perpetrated by an elder’s family or caretakers, often making it difficult for the elder to trust anyone. Elder abuse can be seen worldwide, manifesting itself differently according to cultures and situations. It is always a struggle for power over another older individual that can result in a harm of the victim’s overall well-being.
Like any other type of abuse, elder abuse can manifest itself in a variety of different ways and severities. First and foremost is physical abuse, which can involve punching, hitting, slapping, burning, restraining, or even administering the incorrect doses of medication. Emotional abuse generally consists of frightening or humiliating a person. Often, abusers will identify something that holds great value to the elder and use it as leverage to get what they want from them. There is also financial abuse when dealing with elders, wherein the abuser uses the target’s financial resources without permission for their own gain. Sexual abuse and neglect also occur when dealing with elders. There are other kinds of abuse that are defined as specific to elder abuse, including rights abuse (where the abuser denies the civil and constitutional rights of a person who is old, but not mentally incapacitated) and abandonment (leaving a dependant, elderly person unattended long enough that they could come to harm).
While an elder may actually be wise enough to speak out about any abuse being perpetrated upon them, many may not for a variety of complex emotional and mental reasons. If the abuse continues, there are plenty of negative side effects, up to and including death. Elders who are being abused can become depressed or withdrawn, have trouble with insomnia, become afraid to make their own decisions, run out of money to support one-self, and even try to run away. Any of these can seriously damage one’s overall well-being and emotional health.
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. Here on GoMentor.com, we respect the rights of all individuals, young or old, to love a life free from fear and harm. Our associated therapists can help you to understand if elder abuse is occurring and how to circumvent these behaviors before they become a threat to the victim’s way of life. Due to the personal, intimate nature of elder abuse, it’s important that we remember that it can negatively affect everyone in a family and without proper caution, can create harmful long term damage to a family unit.