1. Internet research was conducted in order to find more information.
2. A preliminary analysis, thoughts about neglected people from the group of vulnerable elderly adults and personal experiences.
As adults grow older they may become more physically frail, may not see or hear as well as they used to, and may develop cognitive problems such as dementia. As a result, they become increasingly vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
Like other forms of abuse, elder abuse is a complex problem, and it is easy for people to have misconceptions about it.
The mistreatment of older adults takes many forms, including physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect. According to the National Centre on Elder Abuse, the number of older adults in the world who are mistreated each year is close to 5 million and is rising.
There appears to be no precise legal definition of ‘elder abuse’ in Scot law, but “abuse” has been defined in the Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001 as including violence, harassment, threatening conduct, and any other conduct giving rise, or likely to give rise, to physical or mental injury, fear, alarm, or distress. As the Scottish Law Commission pointed out in its 1993 Discussion Paper on Mentally Disordered and Vulnerable Adults: Public Authority Powers (No 96, Report 158), abuse can denote both positive actions, such as violence, physical restraint or misappropriation of state benefits and other property, and omissions. Action on Elder Abuse also provide some assistance and that organization has defined it 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”.
When elder abuse takes place and legal action is required against the abuser, general common law principles, or civil or criminal legislation broadly applicable to all adults can be used. 1
Some signs of abuse in an older person include: 2
1. Being aggressive or angry for no obvious reason
2. Becoming quiet and withdrawn
3. Looking unkempt, dirty or thinner than usual
4. Sudden changes in their normal character, such as appearing helpless, depressed or tearful
5. Physical signs of abuse, such as bruises, wounds, fractures and other untreated injuries.
Research has shown that older adults who harbour negative attitudes about aging:
Live 7.5 years less than their peers who positively embrace it.
Have a decreased will to live.
Suffer impairment to memory and recovery from illness.
Experience increased stress.
Show less interest in living a healthy lifestyle.
Recommendations and Policy framework 3,
1. The first and most important step toward preventing elder abuse is to recognize that no one – of whatever age – should be subjected to violent, abusive, humiliating or neglectful behaviour. In addition to promoting this social attitude, it’s recommended take positive steps such as educating people about elder abuse, increasing the availability of respite care, promoting increased social contact and support for families with dependent older adults, and encouraging counselling and treatment to cope with personal and family problems that contribute to abuse.
2. Change can only be brought about with the willing and active participation of those involved in healthcare: the public, patients, healthcare professionals, trusts and health authorities, and government.
3. If it feels like someone you know is showing signs of abuse, talk to them to see if there’s anything you can do to help. If they’re being abused, they may not want to talk about it straight away, especially if they’ve become used to making excuses for their injuries or change in personality.
4. Education is the cornerstone of preventing elder abuse. Media coverage of abuse in nursing homes has made the public knowledgeable about abusive treatment in those settings. Because most abuse occurs in the home by family members or caregivers, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate the public about the special needs and problems of older adults and the risk factors for abuse.
5. Respite care — having someone else care for the elder, even for a few hours each week is essential to reducing caregiver stress, a major contributing factor in elder abuse. Area Agencies on Aging are a local resource for services that might help family caregivers find respite and in-home help with difficult care tasks, such as bathing, dressing and cooking
6. Counselling for behavioural or personal problems in the family or for the individual with mental health and/or substance abuse problems can play a significant role in helping people change lifelong patterns of behaviour or find solutions to problems emerging from current stresses. Even in situations in which it is difficult to tell whether abuse has really occurred, counselling can be helpful in alleviating stress.
7. Social contact and support can be beneficial to older persons and to family members and caregivers as well. When other people are part of the social circle, tensions are less likely to reach unmanageable levels. Having other people to talk to is an important part of relieving tensions. In addition, when there is a larger social circle, abuse is less likely.
1. PROTECTION FROM ABUSE (SCOTLAND) ACT 2001. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2001/14/contents Accessed 9 October 2018
1. Age Concern Scotland, 2003. Elder Abuse and the Law in Scotland. Edinburgh: CS/Age Concern Scotland. Available at: http://www.housingcare.org/downloads/kbase/2016.pdf Accessed 27 September 2018
2. J Elder Abuse Negl. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 Feb 25.
Published in final edited form as:
J Elder Abuse Negl. 2011 Oct. 23(4). p.348–365.
Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4767151/ Accessed 27 September 2018
3. Overview, 2018. Elder Abuse and Neglect: In Search of Solutions. online. Washington: American Psychological Association. Available at: https://www.apa.org/pi/aging/resources/guides/elder-abuse.aspx Accessed 27 September 2018