Elder Abuse: A Call to Action - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Elder Abuse: A Call to Action

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"For every report of abuse and neglect reported to authorities, experts estimate that there may be as many as 5 cases not reported." "For every report of abuse and neglect reported to authorities, experts estimate that there may be as many as 5 cases not reported."

 "Every year an estimated 2.1 million vulnerable adults are victims of physical, psychological, or other forms of abuse and neglect.  For every report of abuse and neglect reported to authorities, experts estimate that there may be as many as 5 cases not reported." (http://www.apa.org/pi/aging/eldabuse.htm)   

"Mary Virginia Barry didn't come to the attention of authorities until paramedics said they found the 84-year old Geneva woman dehydrated, malnourished and lying on soiled sheets covered with ants in the home she shared with her two daughters.  Though she suffered from cancer and the aftermath of a 2004 stroke, Barry hadn't seen a doctor in nine months, prosecutor's allege." (http://www.chicago tribune.com/news/local/chi-elder&abuseapr)

The issue of abuse and neglect is about to transform as the demographics of our population changes, people are living longer and have increasing frailty and vulnerability, more are living alone with families more geographically and emotionally dispersed, and the pool of potential caregivers is shrinking.  The social issue facing our increasing elderly and vulnerable adult population is lacking in awareness and growing in the urgency to promote awareness and prevention.

"Joseph, a 77-year-old with a painful story to tell of abuse by his wife, 22 years his junior, said, ‘I understand why people my age find it very hard to admit to.  It's extremely hard.  There is plenty of denial and people have to look for and recognize what is happening'." (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/localid=4264254)

Elder abuse and neglect is generally categorized into five major types and effects those individuals who are 60 years of age or older who lack the functional, physical, or mental ability to care for themselves; physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment, and exploitation.    Physical abuse is the use of force against an elderly person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment such as hitting, shoving, restraints, and inappropriate use of medications.  Emotional abuse is the language or behavior that causes emotional pain or distress such as intimidation, isolation, or humiliation.  Sexual abuse is sexual contact with an elderly person without their consent such as forcing an elderly person to undress, participate in or observe sexual acts.   Neglect and abandonment includes failing to fulfill a care taking obligation whether intentional or not.  This type of abuse constitutes more than half of all reported cases of abuse and neglect.  The final type is exploitation, which may include investment fraud, use of personal funds, identity theft, forgery, and Medicaid/Medicare fraud.

As a premier in home care provider with over 65 years of combined experience among staff and corporate officers, we witness the reality of abuse and neglect on a regular basis.  It is our goal for each of our communities that we serve to raise awareness, to help the victim, reduce the risk, promote understanding, and increase involvement.  It is our hope that introducing a Silver Ribbon campaign in each of our communities will be the beginning of a change of attitude towards aging, dispelling common myths, and educate the public about the scope and nature of the issue.  Abuse and neglect is a community problem, and the public's involvement is necessary to bring elder abuse and neglect to the forefront.  Please, GET INVOLVED.

Contributed by Jennifer Taylor, BSW MGH
Spokane Branch Manager, AtHome Care.

           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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