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Community and Domestic Violence: Elder Abuse

Major types of elder abuse

There are various forms of abuse that the elderly may go through. Major types of elder abuse include psychological or emotional abuse, where an elderly person is subjected to anguish or stressful situations arising from the acts of another person who is in direct or indirect contact with him/her (Cantor & Brennan, 2000). In Mrs. Dondrae’s case, this could be her son Jack who is currently living with her. Emotional abuse may take the form of intimidation, ridicule, menacing or humiliating the elderly person. Physical abuse includes committing painful afflictions such as physical injury on a susceptible adult. It may also include forceful feeding of deprivation of food; acts that impact negatively on the physical health of a person (Norman & Redfern, 1997).

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Exploitative abuse occurs when people tasked with administering care to the elderly intend to illegally gain from the relationship. It takes the form of misuse of property and funds or taking an elderly person’s belongings without their consent. This type of abuse accounts for a large number of all cases (Cantor & Brennan, 2000). Jack, who apparently cannot afford to live alone, poses the risk of exploitative abuse to Mrs. Dondrae.

Perhaps the most common type of elder abuse is neglect; this refers to the refusal or failure to provide basic needs such as food, shelter or healthcare to vulnerable adults. Mrs. Dondrae has noticed that her son resents caring for her; a situation that could potentially degenerate to neglect. Abandonment is an extended form of neglect and occurs when an elderly person is deserted by family members or close associates (Miller & Knudsen, 2007).

Characteristics of elder abusers

Research has established that many perpetrators of elder abuse have a history of substance abuse problems, or at one point or another, may have had psychiatric illness. These events in their lives may likely drive them to act irrational towards other people (Miller & Knudsen, 2007). Unemployed family members who are wholly dependent on one person (in this case an elder) are most likely to commit financial or exploitative abuse. The case is made worse if they have gambling tendencies or possess a feeling of entitlement towards the elder person’s property (Cantor & Brennan, 2000).

Most abusers are usually under the age of 60 years, with the men more inclined to perpetrate financial and physical abuse which in extreme cases includes sexual abuse. Women perpetrators are generally identified with cases of neglect and abandonment. There are personal attributes such as aggressiveness and domineering behavior that an elder needs to look out for (Miller & Knudsen, 2007).

Characteristics of elders who are abused

There are visible outward signs that can help identify an abused elder. These include telling effects of physical abuse such as wounds, bruises and abrasions or any other form of injury. Venereal infections may indicate sexual abuse. Frequent agitation or extended withdrawals are signs that identify a psychologically abused elder. They may also develop unusual behaviors such as mumbling to themselves or going mum for long periods of time, oblivious of the people around them. Poor personal hygiene, dehydration and unusual weight loss characterize victims of neglect and abandonment (Norman & Redfern, 1997).

Actions to take against probable abuse

In the event that Mrs. Dondrae notices these characteristics on her son, or begins to exhibit some of the tendencies of an abused elder, or has the slightest fear that her son may turn abusive, she can talk to a person that she trusts. This could be another family member, her doctor or even a friend. They can help her examine her relationship with her son and offer appropriate help. Most States have call services that respond to elderly people in emergency situations and would gladly address her predicament (Miller & Knudsen, 2007). Alternatively, she can speak up to her son and voice her thoughts. This will be helpful in the case that Jack does not recognize his actions as abusive.

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  1. Cantor, M. H., & Brennan, M. G. (2000). Social care of the elderly:the effects of ethnicity, class, and culture. New York: Springer.
  2. Miller, J. L., & Knudsen, D. D. (2007). Family abuse and violence: a social problems perspective. Lanham: Rowman Altamira.
  3. Norman, I. J., & Redfern, S. J. (1997). Mental health care for elderly people. Amsterdam: Elsevier Health Sciences.

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