With the growing numbers of elders in our society today comes a serious concern/problem that often time goes unreported – that of Elder Abuse. According to the World Health Organization Elder Abuse “is a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
Elder abuse finds its roots in the family violence dilemma and is often reinforced by society. The majority of victims experiencing elder abuse are elder women. The ratio of women to men is 6:1.
There are several types of elder abuse, including; physical (21%), sexual (1%), emotional or psychological (23%), neglect (28%), abandonment (2%), and financial or material exploitation (25%). Elder abuse is the most recent aspect of family violence to receive public awareness. The individuals affected are 1 out of 5 persons over the age of 65.
Economically, the overt costs to American life have not yet been estimated. The social cost for family violence, which elder abuse is a part of, is estimated in the billions of dollars. Unfortunately, only 10% of abuse to an elder goes reported. Many experts believe much of elder abuse goes unreported and that the 10% is just a minimum amount.
A study by the National Center for Elder Abuse found that 62% of elder abuse was to women. 12% of the abuse involved financial or material exploitation, 62% of the perpetrators were family members, 35% of substantiated cases an adult child was responsible, 13.4% were the spouse, and 13.6% were another relative.
As Americans we all need to be aware of this rising social issue, and the responsibility each and every one of us has to address the issue when we encounter an older vulnerable adult who potentially is being abused.
Abuse can happen to anyone-no matter the person’s age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background.
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