It seems like every time we turn on the television we hear a story about an elderly person being harmed, taken advantage of, or being abused. What is ‘elder abuse’ and who’s doing it? Why does it happen? Simply defined, elder abuse is the mistreatment of an older person who is in some way made vulnerable by their physical or mental health problems. It can be a single act or a series of repeated acts over time. These acts cause unnecessary suffering to someone who is dependent on others for care or protection. The key issue is that the victim has “an expectation of trust” toward the very person doing the abusing. The elderly can easily become victims because as they age they often have a decline in physical, emotional, or mental health. They find themselves depending on others whether it’s a spouse, family member, friend, or paid caregiver. Elder abuse rears its ugly head in all countries and levels of society whether rich or poor. Frighteningly, the abusers more often then not are family members. The abuse is often a result of some sort of stress or frustration being felt by the caregivers. Their stress can come from a variety of sources such as exhaustion, their own physical problems, lack of caregiver skills, and from external sources like financial problems or job stress. In your experience, what do you think can push a caregiver to the role of abuser? Comment below.
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