Administration for Community Living (2012) defined elderly abuse as an intentional act by a caregiver or any other person, which causes harm or a significant risk of harm to a vulnerable adult, often aged 50 years and above. Although local authorities have collaborated with human rights activists to develop and implement policies that help in the prevention of elderly abuse, it is undisputed that hundreds of thousands of venerable adults in the U.S. are found to be victims of abuse and exploitation each year. A majority of victims of elderly abuse are old and frail people who depend on others to meet their basic needs, particularly due to their inability to work and earn economic independence. Moreover, studies show that many of the perpetrators of elderly abuse are ‘trusted’ persons such as caregivers, friends, and family members (James & Canada 2015).
Hence, this paper will comprehensively analyze the issue of elderly abuse to include the different types of elderly abuse, its prevalence in the society, laws and policies that prevent the abuse, risk factors for the abuse, and its preventive measures. The paper will be segmented into several sections among them statement of the problem, background and significance of the study, literature review, findings, discussion, and conclusion.
Statement of the Problem
Even though the elderly are becoming more active and independent in the modern society since they are living longer and healthy, it is undeniable that the hidden problem of elderly abuse, neglect, and exploitation is increasingly becoming a concern in the society. With studies showing that in excess of half a million cases of elderly abuse are reported in the U.S. annually and many more go unreported, it is a given that more needs to be done in order to curb the problem of elderly abuse. As explained by American Psychology Association (2016), for each case of elderly abuse, exploitation, neglect, and self-neglect that is reported in the U.S., five go unreported. Based on that, it is clear that the prevalence of elderly abuse in the American society is projected to be five times more than the reported cases.
Therefore, this paper will work to prove or disapprove the notion that a majority of victims of elderly abuse do not report their abusive experiences to the relevant authorities due to the fear of retaliation from their perpetrators. Moreover, the paper will analyze why the prevalence of elderly abuse in the U.S. is gradually yet steadily increasing despite the development and implementation of policies and laws that aim at preventing the abuse. In addition, the research study will evaluate whether or not the society in entirety has a direct role to play in the fight against elderly abuse, especially now that most incidences of elderly abuse take place in their homes and in institutional settings such as the long-term care facilities, and are perpetrated by people who are entrusted with the responsibility to take good care of them.
Caregiver(s): a person, often a family member or a paid helper such a social worker, who is responsible to look after an elderly person(s).
Policy: a course of action that is adopted and implemented by the relevant authority such as government agencies and humanitarian organizations on the verge to regulate and guide the people’s conduct in relation to elderly care.
Elders: an older adult defined as someone who is at the age of 60 or older.
Long-term care facility: an institution, which provides restorative and ongoing skilled care to the elderly. The long-term care facilities being referred to in this paper are nursing homes for the elderly.
Background and Significance of the Study
According to Office of Justice Programs (2015), elderly abuse and neglect in the U.S. has been rampant in the past since it is historically perceived as a social rather than criminal problem. Due to that, a majority of states did not bother to develop and implement adult protective service units as well as adult protective legislations until in the late 1980s. Moreover, adult abuse in America is an understudied area as few professionals have conducted complete, definitive and comprehensive research in the area. With the population of persons aged 65 years and above in the U.S. being projected to increase from 13% in 2010 to 20% of the country’s total population by 2050, it is indisputable that the elderly account for a significant percentage of the American society. Studies show that persons aged 65 and above are more vulnerable to different types of elderly abuse among them sexual, financial, physical, and emotional abuse as well as exploitation, abandonment, neglect, and self-neglect. Also, the older one becomes the more dependent he/she is to a caregiver, and the more susceptible to elderly abuse he/she becomes (National Center for Elder Abuse, 2014).
As it was explained by Jackson, Hafemeister & Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (2015), the U.S. is experiencing an increased rate of elderly abuse because its medical and criminal justice systems have not embraced comprehensive forensic guidelines through which to identify and prosecute elderly abuse and mistreatment. However, local authorities have adopted policies that aim at reducing elderly abuse in their areas of jurisdiction. For instance, all states in America have increased accessibility to APS and have implemented policies and legislations that demand for mandatory reporting of any form of elderly abuse to the relevant authorities. These laws are intended to encourage as many victims and witnesses of elderly abuse to report incidences of abuse, neglect, and exploitation among the elderly.
According to Sourtzis, Rinaldo, CTV Television Network & McIntyre Media (2015), many victims of elderly abuse are often unwilling to report their experiences in fear of retaliating from the perpetrators. Other notable reasons for the high rates of unreported cases of elderly abuse are the lack of cognitive and/or physical ability to report, and the unwillingness to get their perpetrators (of which most of them are family members) on the wrong side of the law. Thus, the essence of this study is to find out the main reasons for the increased prevalence of elderly abuse in the society, and develop the best policies and strategies through which to curb this problem. Furthermore, the paper intends to provide a clear insight into the risk factors of elderly abuse and its adverse effects to the victims, and eventually give comprehensive strategies through which to resolve the challenge.
In essence, physically, emotionally, or sexually abusing or exploiting an aged individual amounts to an abuse. The U.S Department of State reported that close to 1 in every 10 American aged 60 years and above have experienced some form of abuse in their lifetime. The estimate when aggregated goes as high as approximately 5 million cases of elderly abuse every year in the U.S alone. Another independent study further asserted that only one case in every 14 approximated are reported to the relevant authorities. Those responsible for such abuses are both men and women of younger age, some who have some form of relations with these elderly persons. In close to 90 % of the reported cases, those responsible for the neglect are mostly family members with more than half of these culprits being adults. Other form of abuse is due to social isolation or even mental disorders. Past studies postulate that approximately two thirds of the elderly with any form of mental impairment have been abused or even neglected in one way. Such persons are also very vulnerable to interpersonal violence that is reportedly high among these adults who are elderly and with certain forms of disabilities. Also, the rate at which the elders are being abused ranges from 2 to 10 % based on past studies. Such studies are very vital in absolutely comprehending various forms of abuse and defining the appropriate prevention strategies. The ultimate effects of elderly abuse cannot be ignored whatsoever. According to past studies, about 300 % of the elderly being abused has a higher chance of succumbing to the impacts.
From the above estimations, it is very explicit that by the year 2050, the elderly population in the U.S is expected to rise doubling the current numbers. A past study on elderly abuse further confirmed that approximately 9 % of those being abused had no access to relevant authorities making it difficult to report the incidences.
Referring to a report by Films Media Group and National Educational Video, Inc. (2015), the elderly are more vulnerable to abuse because as one become older, he/she becomes more physically frail, and that consequently makes them unable to stand up against bullying and mistreatment or even fight back whenever they are attacked. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA) (2014), about 14 million of Americans who are aged 65 years and above have one or more form of disability. Other than physical disabilities such as blindness, dumbness, deafness, and lameness among others, a majority of the elderly have mental ailments such as Alzheimer, which make them vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous people.
Ultimately, research show that most of elderly abuses are executed in victim’s homes and by people who are close to them or are charged with the responsibility to take care of them. As supported by Robinson, Saisan and Segal (2016) most of the perpetrators of elderly abuse are there children, spouses, grandchildren, siblings, and other relatives.
A Chart Representing Perpetrators of Elderly Abuse
Types of Elderly Abuse
Elderly abuse takes different forms. Some forms of elderly abuse involve self-neglect while others involve neglect by other people. Also, elderly abuse can take the form of financial chicanery as well as intimidation or threats (Choi & Mayer, 2000).
One of the most prevalent forms of elderly abuse is physical abuse. Lachs & Pillemer (2004) define physical abuse among the elderly as an intentional infliction of pain or injury on the body of a senior. Physical abuse is not only non-accidental but also causes pain, impairment, and/or injuries on victims. Moreover, this form of abuse may not only involve physical assault like slapping, shoving, or hitting; but may also involve inappropriate use of drugs, confinements, and/or restraints against the vulnerable old people.
Emotional/psychological abuse is also a prevalent form of elderly abuse. It involves the infliction of mental pain, distress, or anguish on an elderly person. It may take both the verbal and non-verbal forms. The verbal forms of emotional abuse among the elderly may involve such acts as humiliation and ridicule, intimidation through threats and yelling, and habitual blaming of old persons. On the other hand, non-verbal forms of emotional abuse among the elderly may involve neglecting and elderly person, isolating or stigmatizing an elderly person, and menacing and elder person.
Sexual abuse is also a type of elderly abuse that has been reported in the U.S. and other countries around the world. This type of elderly abuse involves having sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person without his/her consent. Sexual abuse can involve the forceful engagement into physical sex acts, forcible exposure of the elderly to pornographic materials, compelling the elderly to undress in inappropriate places, or discriminating against the elderly along gender divides.
Financial exploitation is equally a type of abuse that is prevalent among the elderly. This type of abuse involves the use of funds and/or property of an elderly person without his/her authorization. Financial exploitation of the elderly may include gorging the elder’s signature to be eligible for financial gains, engaging in identity theft, and misusing personal checks, bank accounts, and credit cards of the elderly.
Abandonment or neglect, where a caregiver fails to fulfill his /her caretaking obligation, is also a type of elderly abuse. Neglect as a form of elderly abuse may be intentional or unintentional. Neglect occurs when a caregiver declines to provide such basic needs as food, shelter, protection, clothing, or healthcare for the vulnerable elderly. As Lowenstein, Eisikovits, Band-Winterstein & Enosh (2009) asserted, abandonment s the most prevalent form of elderly abuse since it accounts for more than half of all the reported incidences of elderly abuse. Exploitation is also a form of elderly abuse that has been reported in the U.S. This form of elderly abuse involves inappropriate use of funds, property, or assets of an elderly person for someone else’s selfish gains. The exploiters often take advantage of the vulnerabilities of the elderly to illegally take and misuse their resources.
A Chart Representing the Prevalence of Different Types of Elderly Abuse in America
Risk Factors for Elderly Abuse
With reference to a report by Lowenstein et al. (2009), several factors lead to the prevalence of elderly abuse in the society. Among the main risk factors for elderly abuse are unemployment or retirement, low household income, poor health, lack of proper policies and legislations that ensure elderly protection, low levels of social support, disabilities, and inadequate training of caregivers (Lowenstein et al., 2009).
Caregivers who work in institutional settings such as Long-term care facilities and nursing homes in which some elderly persons live also experience certain conditions that often make them perpetrators of elderly abuse. As supported by a study by Jackson et al. (2015), caregivers in nursing homes that are understaffed, who work in poor working conditions, who are undertrained, and who are not passionate about their responsibilities are prone to perpetrating elderly abuse. Other risk factors for elderly abuse among caregivers are lack of resilience (intolerance to stress), depression, substance abuse, and negative stereotypes such as the perception that taking care of the elderly is burdensome.
Other than caregivers’ failure to execute their obligations with diligence and professionalism required, the conditions and history of individual elderly persons also make them susceptible to abuse. Some of the factors that pertain to individual elderly persons that make them at increased risk of abuse are social isolation, history of domestic violence, the tendency to engage in physical or verbal aggression, disability, dementia, and previous relationships with family members like spouses and children. Apparently, an elder who had bad relationship with a spouse or children before he/she became vulnerable is at great risk to abuse and vice versa. Also, an elderly person who is a drug addict, aggressive, uses abusive language, has physical or mental disability, and suffers from dementia is more susceptible to elderly abuse in homes and in long-term care facilities.
Effects of Elderly Abuse
According to Ogg & Bennett (1992), elders who have been victims of any form of elderly abuse have a significant reduction in their lifespan. Particularly, victims of elderly abuse are found to be at 300% higher risk of death than those who have never been abused. Furthermore, studies have confirmed that victims of elderly abuse are at significantly increased risk of psychological distress as well as reduced level of self-efficacy. This is justified by the fact that elderly victimization leads to isolation, stigmatization, and depression, which collectively harm the psychological wellbeing of the victims. Also, elderly abuse, especially physical and emotional abuse, leads to additional health problems. For instance, emotional abuse may lead to dementia, depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer while physical abuse may lead to increased joint and bone problems, hypertension, digestive problems, and heart disease. Also, elderly abuse, especially financial exploitation increases the level of dependency of an elderly person to a caregiver. A financially exploited elderly person is unable to cater for his/her basic needs such as food, shelter, and healthcare, and that not only makes them reliant on other people for survival but also make them depressed. Overdependence due to financial exploitation of the elderly also damages their self-esteem since it makes them feel as they are a burden to their caregivers. It as well damages the trust between the exploited elderly persons and their caregivers, and that eventually makes them (the elderly) unwilling to cooperate with them (caregivers) in the management of their (elderly) vulnerable conditions or states.
According to Choi, & Mayer (2000), some of the immediate possible physical effects of elderly abuse include; nutrition problems and consistent physical and emotional pains. Most of these abused aged persons are helpless and persistent abuse may result into stress disorders. In addition, these persons are at risk of developing some sort of distress and anxiety reactions.
Jackson et al (2015), however, accredit such abuses and mistreatments to certain inherent factors. For instance, the fact that most of these individuals depends entirely on others for help and inadequate response from the state (Jackson et al, 2015). To some people, caring for these elderly persons may be stressful both financially and emotionally. However, understanding that it is a natural stage of life, and that neglecting these group of people is a wild idea will pump some sense (Jackson et al, 2015). With the increased rate of the elderly population in the U.S, the State should design appropriate legislations that will effectively protect these persons from neglect and physical assaults (Jackson et al, 2015).
Kosberg (1988) also postulate that most of these aged persons occasionally suffer from a number of complicated health related conditions. Also, they are more susceptible to strange and new diseases including STIs increasing their risks of premature deaths (Kosberg, 1988). Per se, based on these background, the State ought to have established strict legislations that will be crucial in protecting the fundamental rights of these individuals (Kosberg, 1988). This will ultimately reduce the elder-abuse related expenditures and channel such resources to other significant facets of the economy.
Reporting of Elderly Abuse
Studies show that a majority of elderly abuse incidences go unreported. Among the main reasons for seniors to fail reporting their cases of elderly abuse are: the fear of retaliation from the perpetrators, fear of being abandoned by their caregivers, and the fear to get their abusers into trouble with the law (ACL, 2012). Due to the high unreported rate of elderly abuse, the NCEA (National Center on Elderly Abuse) has been unable to accurately determine the exact number of seniors who are victims of elderly abuse and neglect. Even though studies have shown that the older one is the more susceptible to abuse he/she is, there are no detailed and reliable reports showing the age brackets (from 65 years and above) that have reported the highest and most severe incidences of elderly abuse.
Moreover, the prevalence of elderly abuse has been on a significant increase in the U.S. majorly because; as the seniors are reluctant to report their cases to relevant authorities, professionals who serve in care facilities for the elderly have missed out on signs of elder abuse due to the lack of appropriate skills/knowledge to detect such abuses. Furthermore, the issue of elderly abuse has been underrated in the American society due to the low reporting rate of cases of elderly abuse as well as the failure to conduct extensive studies on the issue.
Nonetheless, reports by the U.S. shows that reporting rate of elderly abuse in the country has been increasing over the recent past (ACL, 2012). The increasing trend in reporting the cases of elderly abuse in the U.S. is as a result of the establishment of APS agencies in all the 50 states, as well as the development and implementation of laws in the majority of states, which provide for mandatory reporting of elderly abuse to the authorities. Despite the abovementioned schemes that aim at increasing the reporting rate of elderly abuse in America, the NCEA showed that an overwhelming number of incidences of elderly abuse, neglect, and exploitation go undetected, unreported, and untreated each year (ACL, 2012). To prove that, a study by the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence found that only one out of 24 cases of elderly abuse gets to the attention of relevant authorities (ACL, 2012). Every individual should be tasked with reporting every suspected cases of elderly abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. A past study on the social status of the elderly affirmed that most people tend to discount the value of the aged individuals relegating them to lower social eminence.
Most of these aged persons also have needs and desires, and treating them like they don’t deserve is totally against the rule of civility. Considering the experience and value attached to most of these persons, every member of the society should ensure that not elderly person is intentionally neglected. In most of the reported cases of abuse, the victims had a close relationship with the people who abused them, violating trusts in families. Older people rarely report cases of abuse making it significantly difficult to recognize specific cases of abuse. A possible abuse, however, may be identified by the specific behavior of an elderly person or any serious body harm suspected to be as a result of such violation. All the evidence pointing at a likely abuse should be assessed keenly coupled with serious interpretation of relevant information and relationships.
Issues of Concern after Reporting Cases of Elderly Abuse
Inasmuch as it the right thing to do, reporting cases of elderly abuse is often a delicate and at times troublesome process. For instance, some seniors prefer having abusive caregivers to having none at all, while others fear severe retaliation from the caregivers. Below are some of the main concerns that often arise on reporting cases of elderly abuse, which consequently make victims of the abuse to be reluctant to report their experiences.
The risk of abandonment by caregivers. It is virtually obvious that caregivers who are reported to the authorities for abuse by the elderly are bound to feel frustrated and betrayed by people who need their help the most, and that eventually makes them to abandon their caregiving responsibilities. At the same time, many vulnerable elderly persons need assistance, and that makes them to prefer having abusive caregivers to having no caregiver at all. In fear of the uncertainty, many elderly persons who are victims of abuse, especially from their caregivers, assume that reporting their cases could only leave them with no one to take care of them; and that could cause them more trouble and pain than their abusive ‘current’ situations.
The fear of living in long-term assisted care facilities. The Nursing Home Abuse Guide (2016) pointed out that a majority of the vulnerable elderly persons are afraid of living in nursing homes or adult care facilities. They prefer living in their homes with their abusive spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, and other relatives to nursing homes with professional caregivers. Therefore, they do not report their cases of abuse to the authorities because they know they could be taken to adult care facilities for refuge as investigations and prosecutions of their abuser are underway.
Moreover, some elderly people who have been abused in nursing homes or heard of incidences of elderly abuse by caregivers in nursing homes fear enrolling in such facilities since they could be subject to similar or even worse forms of abuse. The main reason for the elderly to decline reporting their cases of abuse by caregivers in adult care facilities is that they could be transferred to other long-term care facilities from where they could be subject to worse forms of victimization. Also, the change in adult care facilities does bring a change in environment and friends, which a majority of the vulnerable adults are unwilling to embrace and adapt with.
The fear of embarrassment due to their situation. Studies show that a majority of the elderly people feel embarrassed when they experience elderly abuse. They tend to feel as if they are a burden to other people (their caregivers) when they should be independent and self-supportive. However, it is undeniable that as one gets older, he/she loses certain intellectual and physical capabilities, which make him/her to require assistance. Hence, although unjustified, it is clear that most of the abused adults feel embarrassed of their situations, and that makes them unwilling to report their cases to other people and the authorities. In addition, some seniors feel that their abuse by their relatives is a reflection of their bad character while young. In essence, such adults tend to think that it is their fault that they are abused and neglected by their close relatives and caregivers. They feel as though their abusers are revenging against their (elderly people) bad deeds, which they committed while still strong and dependable upon.
Fear of retaliation. Retaliation from perpetrators is a common consequence of reporting any case of abuse, and the elderly abuse cases are not exceptions. Since the elderly are vulnerable and physically unable to defend themselves against violence, they are often subjects to retaliation whenever they report their victimizers to the authorities. Although many states have implemented laws that protect the elderly from retaliation, it is undisputed that retaliation remains to be one of the major concerns of elders whenever they report their instances of elderly abuse. Whether from professional caregivers or close relatives of the victimized elders, retaliation is virtually inevitable since the elder will always require some level of assistance even after they have reported their victimizers to the authorities.
Strategies Put In Place to Control the Prevalence of Elderly Abuse
One of the main strategies that the government of America has implemented to prevent the prevalence of elderly abuse is the creation public awareness on the seriousness of the issue and its impact on the lives and health of the vulnerable elderly people. Through the establishment of Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies in all states, the government of the U.S. has been able to inform the public about the importance to promote and improve the wellbeing of the vulnerable adults (Kosberg, 1988). In essence, the government has used advanced technology and the mainstream media to sensitize the public about elderly abuse, especially to ensure immediate and extensive reporting of all incidences elderly abuse in the society.
A majority of states in America have as well implemented mandatory reporting laws for elderly abuse. Through these laws, everyone in the society is obliged to report any case of elderly abuse that takes place in his/her presence or within his/her neighborhood. The laws also compels all people to monitor the health conditions of the elderly people in their environments, and report any suspicious incidences to the relevant authorities at the earliest opportunity possible.
The government has also established adult care facilities in different parts of the country to provide professional care to the elderly people. The facilities, which are sponsored majorly by the government, have skilled/trained caregivers who not only provide physical care but also emotional and intellectual support to them. The facilities are easily accessible to all eligible adults. Hence, the serve as places of refuge for victims of elderly abuse and all old people who do not have reliable persons to take good care of them from their homes.
The government has also established hotlines that operate round the clock (24/7) to attend to cases of elderly abuse. The hotlines are open to everyone, and provide the required support to all elderly people who have been victimized by their relatives, professional caregivers, or even strangers. By calling on the hotlines, the vulnerable adults are able to access legal, physical, financial, emotional, and even intellectual support from relevant government agencies.
New York, for instance, has a policy of zero tolerance to any form of violence. The State has put in place numerous policies that are practicable and effective aimed at controlling violence against the elderly members of the society. For instance, the state has a comprehensive safety plan aims at increasing the safety of the vulnerable persons who are 60 years and above. The state also put in place hotlines that can be used to contact relevant authorities when there is a suspected case of violence against an elderly person. The state of Illinois has also established various programs aimed at preventing elderly abuse. For example, the State has put in place a Elder Abuse and Neglect Program that aims at preventing possible cases of abuse and protecting and promoting the fundamental right to quality life and care. The State also formed a task force to establish long-term care and strategies of protecting the elderly in the state. Texas also has a hotline for emergency cases coupled with a comprehensive program to increase awareness on the elderly abuse and to encourage the populace to report identified cases.
From the literature review above, it is evident that the rate of elderly abuse in the U.S. has been steadily increasing over the recent past. Although the issue of elderly abuse has been underrated in the society, it is indisputable that about half a million cases of elderly abuse are reported to the authorities annually with many more going unreported.
Moreover, studies have showed that about half (47%) of the elderly abuses in the U.S. are committed by children of the victims with many more being committed by close relatives of the victims such as their spouses, grandchildren and siblings. With relatives being the trusted people to provide care for their loved ones (the elderly people), it is ironical that they are the one who perpetrate abuse against them. Moreover, the fact that many elderly people live in their own homes with their relatives makes it very difficult for government agencies and relevant authorities to suspect them (the relatives) of abusing their vulnerable members of the family.
The research has also pointed out that only one in 24 cases of elderly abuse is reported to the authorities. This is definitely disturbing statistics since many cases of elderly abuse do not come to the attention of the relevant authorities. Although the fear of retaliation from the perpetrators of elderly abuse is one of the main reasons for the high rates of unreported cases of elderly abuse, the fear to get the perpetrators (of whom about 90% are dear to the elderly as either close relatives or friends) on the wrong side of the law is the main reason for the high levels of unreported cases of elderly abuse. Apparently, many victimized seniors do not want to have their children, spouses, grandchildren, siblings, and other close relatives and friends to be in trouble with the law, especially for neglecting and abusing them. They therefore decide to keep their incidences of victimization to themselves or rather away from the authorities on the verge to protect their loved ones against legal actions (NCPEA, 2008).
Moreover, the literature review above shows that all members of the society have a direct role to play in the fight against elderly abuse. Given that most cases of elderly abuse are committed in their homes by their close relatives and friends, it is very difficult for government agencies to identify all the abuses and take appropriate legal and social measure to control the situation. Moreover, the unwillingness of victims of elderly abuse to report their incidences of abuse to the authority, especially for their reluctance to give away people who are dear to them to the authorities for legal actions to be taken against them (the victimizers), has made it necessary for all members of the to participate actively in reporting any suspected cases of abuse against the seniors. It is due to that, that a majority of states have implemented laws that demand for mandatory reporting of elderly abuse, established hotlines that operate round the clock to offer support and solutions for cases of elderly abuse, constructed adult care facilities throughout the country, and established several agencies such as the Adult Protective Services (APS) agency, the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA), and Clearinghouse on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly (CANE), to facilitate easy reporting and investigation of cases of elderly abuse. The abovementioned efforts by the government aim at enabling everyone to directly participate in the war against elderly abuse.
Discussion and Recommendations
From the literature review and analysis of statistics from reputable organizations such as the CANE, NCEA, NCPEA, APS, it is clear that the issue of elderly abuse is not given the attention it deserve by the government and relevant authorities. With studies showing that only one in every 24 cases of elderly abuse is being reported to the authorities and treated with the required attention, it is undisputed that a majority of the elderly population is being victimized and nobody is taking any action to protect them. It is very unfortunate that the U.S. government has not yet done much to ensure accurate, timely, and just prosecution of all perpetrators of elderly abuse.
In order to improve the fight against elderly abuse in the society, it is recommendable that the government through relevant agencies develops and implements policies that ensure proper training of all caregivers of the senior population regardless of whether they (the caregivers) are professional caregivers or close relatives and friends of the elderly people. Through regular training, all caregivers will have the professional knowledge, intellectual tolerance, and emotional ability to deal with the vulnerable elderly people in respectable and just manners.
Moreover, it is recommendable that the government provides a platform on which all people, especially the elderly population, have trust with the authorities in the fight against victimization. They can achieve this by creating platforms on which they carefully, indiscriminately, and non-judgmentally listen to the concerns of seniors and their caregivers, and proceed to provide appropriate solutions. The government should also develop a legal system, which speedily yet accurately investigates and prosecute all perpetrators of elderly abuse regardless of their (perpetrators) personal relationships with their victims. In addition, it is recommended that the government and all relevant agencies create public awareness on the recognition and reporting of cases of elderly abuse.
In order to exhaustively analyze the issue of elderly abuse, future researches should work to find out the reasons and solutions for the high levels of unreported cases of elderly abuse despite the efforts by the government to put in place measures that encourage reporting of cases of elderly abuse. Future research should also find out whether or not the prevalence of elderly abuse varies along gender, racial, religious, and social class divides.
In conclusion of the above analysis, it is evident that the prevalence or elderly abuse has been on the increase over the recent past. Within excess of half a million cases being reported in the U.S. annually and many more going unreported, it is undeniable that elderly abuse is an issue that requires immediate attention from the relevant authorities. Moreover, the rate of unreported case of elderly abuse in the U.S. is at an extreme high given that only one in 24 cases is reported to the authorities. Therefore, it is vital that the government, through relevant agencies, develops and implements strategies and policies through which to improve the reporting rate of cases elderly abuse as well as prevent its prevalence in the society.
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