The World Health Organization (WHO) defines elder abuse as “… 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.” It is a kind of violence and a violation of human rights as well. It includes physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse. It also includes material and financial abuse, neglect and abandonment. It may also lead to a loss of respect and dignity. It is not only a social evil but also an enduring evil in human nature that transcends borders. Unfortunately, for us, elder care has still to pick up in our country and we, at TriBeCa Care, are doing our bit.
Elder abuse is about the strong preying on the weak. It is one of the public health problems that are plaguing the world as a whole. The perpetrators are caregivers who are members of the family, extended family, a spouse or a hired attendant. A study was conducted in 2017 based on evidence gathered from 52 studies conducted in 28 countries. It included a range of diverse regions, including developing and developed countries. This study found that in 2016 alone, an estimated 15.7% of people aged 60 years and above were subject to one form of abuse or other. It is an underestimation because old people are often reluctant to report abuse and only 1 in approximately 24 cases is reported.
Below is a rough estimation of the number of elderly people affected by various kinds of abuse:
Psychological abuse: 11.6%
Financial abuse: 6.8%
Physical abuse: 2.6%
Sexual abuse: 0.9%
In developed countries, there is next to no data available on elder abuse in institutions like hospitals, nursing homes and assisted care facilities. Restraining patients physically and not changing their soiled clothes, consequently taking away any little shred of dignity that is left, is not unheard of. Not providing sufficient care leading to bed sores is also common in institutions. Neglect and emotional abuse, however, is not typical to institutions.
Elder abuse can have deadly consequences. Minor physical injuries like minor scratches or bruises can develop into serious problems. The bones of elderly people are more fragile therefore a mistimed push or a shove can lead to broken bones. Head injuries can lead to disability. Some of these injuries can even cause death. Elder abuse can have serious psychological consequences, like depression and anxiety that can last for a long time; in this case, for the rest of their lives. It is thought more likely that elderly people who experience abuse will die prematurely as opposed to those who don’t. Human rights for the Elderly has been taken seriously nowadays.
Elder care is a noble cause. Elder abuse is not. Those who are or choose to be primary caregivers of the elderly, need to be committed to this cause. It is easy to hurt or exploit the elderly because there is not much they can do in their own defence. The question now is – just because we have the power to hurt someone or control their lives, should we do it? If we do, what does that say about ourselves? If you feel you need the help of a professional caregiver to take care of your elderly loved one, choose TriBeCa Care as your home healthcare service. Contact us to book an appointment or visit our website and take a look at our elder care packages.