Elderly abuse is the infliction of emotional, physical or sexual harm or injury to the aged people (Cebik et al, 1996). Elderly Neglect is failing to provide the required services to an eligible adult person by any firm, individual or corporation with contractual obligations to do so. As elders become more physically weak, there resistance to fight back and bullying is greatly reduced. They may not hear well or see properly or think clearly as before, giving chances to unscrupulous individuals to exploit them. Many aged people globally are being abused. In the US, for example, an approximated four per cent aged persons (65 years and above) are victims of psychological, physical and other forms of neglect and abuse (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence Canada, 1986).
There are several types of elderly neglect and abuse. The major abuse is physical abuse. The aged suffer injury and pain through bruising, slapping, beating, or restraining. The elderly are abused sexually through any kind of contact. They are exploited in making legal decisions like concealment of property and funds. The aged may be abandoned or deserted by the individual who has the responsibility to take care of him/her. The aged are also abused emotionally. They suffer anguish, distress and mental pain through non-verbal and verbal acts e.g. threatening, intimidation or humiliation.
There are symptoms associated with elderly neglect and abuse. The elderly may lack basic needs like food, water, heat, etc. He/she may have unexplained and untreated mental or medical conditions (Bozinovski, 1995). The aged may have unsafe housing due to despair, poor wiring, bad sanitation, architectural barriers or substandard hygiene. The elderly can also suffer from malnutrition o dehydration(Cebik et al, 1996).. It is also characterised by bruises, poor financial situations, unusual weight loss, unattended medical needs, tense or strained relationships and regular arguments between the elderly and the caregiver.
Other effects of elderly neglect include poor personal hygiene, depression, self-destructive behaviour, confusion, nightmares or poor sleeping modes, emotional distress, and improper clothing (Summers et al, 2006).
Elderly abuse and neglect can be prevented. Prevention can be done in several ways. Education is a major factor in neglect prevention. Media coverage can be used to make the public know some of the ways of abuse prevention, special needs and problems facing the aged people (Bozinovski, 1995). Respite care is also a main means of reducing abuse of the aged. Social support and contact can be a boon to the aged as well as caregivers and family members (Summers et al, 2006). When the social circle includes other people, tensions can be reduced to manageable levels.
Counselling plays a big part in reducing elderly neglect. The behavioural acts of the caregiver can be changed through counselling (Summers et al, 2006). The caregiver can in turn counsel the elderly. It is a real challenge to respect an aged persons rights and privileges and at the same time ensuring that they receive proper care(Cebik et all, 1996). In conclusion, the elderly suffer several types of abuse and neglect globally but these can be reduced greatly if the above measure are taken into account.
Bozinovski, S. D. (1995). Self-neglect among the elderly: Maintaining continuity of self.
Cebik, L. B., Graber, G. C., & Marsh, F. H. (1996). Violence, neglect, and the elderly. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (Canada), Manitoba Association on Gerontology., & Canada. (1986). Abuse and neglect of the elderly. Ottawa?: Health and Welfare Canada
Summers, R. W., Hoffman, A. M., & American Public Health Association. (2006). Elder abuse: A public health perspective. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association
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