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Elder Abuse

Overview :

Results from the National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, funded in part by the Administration on Aging, suggest that over 500,000 people 60 years of age and older are abused or neglected each year in the United States. It was also found that four times as many incidents of abuse, neglect, or self-neglect are never reported, causing researchers to estimate that as many as two million elderly persons in the United States are abused each year. In 90% of the cases, the abusers were found to be family members and most often were the adult children or spouses of those abused. In addition, equal numbers of men and women have been identified as the abusers. However, women, especially those over 80 years of age, tend to be victimized more than men.

Elder abuse can take place anywhere, but the two main settings addressed by law are domestic settings, such as the elder's home or the caregiver's home, and institutional settings, such as a nursing home or group home. In general, there are five basic types of elderly abuse: physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, financial, and neglect. Data from National Center on Elder Abuse indicates that more than half of the cases reported involve some kind of neglect, whereas 1 in 7 cases involve physical abuse. It is considered neglect when a caretaker deprives an elderly person of the necessary care needed in order to avoid physical or mental harm. Sometimes the behavior of an elderly person threatens his or her own health; in those cases, the abuse is called self-neglect. Physical abuse refers to physical force that causes bodily harm to an elderly person, such as slapping, pushing, kicking, pinching, or burning.

About 1 in 8 cases of elderly abuse involve some form of financial exploitation, which is defined as the use of an elderly person's resources without his or her consent. The National Center on Elder Abuse defines emotional and psychological abuse of a senior as causing anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts, such as verbal assaults, insults, intimidation, and humiliation, for example. Isolating elderly persons from their friends and family as well as giving them the silent treatment are two other forms of emotional and psychological abuse. Any kind of non-consensual sexual contact with an elderly person that takes place without his or her consent is considered sexual abuse.

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