February 18, 2014
Elder abuse is not a new phenomenon. There is evidence of its existence centuries ago. More recent is recognition of elder abuse as a health and social problem. In the United States this first surfaced in the 1950s, but it was not until the 1980s that elder abuse “came of age” as a major concern of older Americans. However, elder abuse is not confined to a single locale. Rather, it is a global problem, found in both developed and developing countries (Antezberger, 2009). The purpose of this essay is to example the types of elder abuse, how to identify elder abuse, risk factors associated with elder abuse, reporting elder abuse and ethics associated with elder abuse in a healthcare role, specifically as a certified nurse assistant (CNA).
Forms of Elder Abuse
Unfortunately elder abuse can take many forms. The first form and obvious is physical abuse. Physical abuse is the use of force that causes unnecessary pain or injury, even if the reason is to help, can be regarded as abusive behavior. Physical abuse can include deliberate or inadvertent hitting, beating, pushing, kicking, pinching, burning, biting, overmedicating, under medicating, or force-feeding; improper use of physical or chemical restraints; and exposure to severe weather. Emotional or psychological abuse is a form of abuse or behaviors that causes an older adult to have fear, mental anguish or emotional pain or distress. This kind of abuse includes name-calling, intimidation, insults and threats which could lead to manipulation. Neglect is a form of abuse that has a wide range. Neglect can range from withholding appropriate attention from the individual to intentionally failing to meet the older adults’ physical, social, or emotional needs. It can include failure to provide food, water, clothing, medication, or assistance with activities of daily living or personal hygiene. In addition, failure to manage older adults’ money responsibly and withholding necessary health care can be considered neglect. Sexual abuse is any nonconsensual intimate contact physically as well as any suggestive poses, photography and pornography forced upon the elder. Sexual abuse is not often reported as a kind of elder abuse due to embarrassment and low self esteem. Finally there is financial abuse and exploitation. Financial exploitation includes fraud, taking money under false pretenses, forgery, forced property transfers, purchasing expensive items without permission, or denying older adults access to their own funds or home. It includes the improper use of legal guardianship arrangements, powers of attorney, or conservatorships, as well as a variety of scams by salespeople, health-related services, mortgage companies, or friends (Muehlbauer & Crane, 2006).
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Warning signs of abuse may not be readily apparent to the CNA providing routine care on a newly admitted patient. Signs and symptoms of physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment include bruising, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions and burns. Emotional abuse signs and symptoms include unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, new onset of depression or any changes in alertness; such as, lethargy, sleepiness or not responding to the caretaker. Other signs of emotional abuse include frequent arguments between the elder and caregiver, controlling spouse, threatening language and belittling comments. Sexual abuse signs include bruising around breasts or genitalia or unusual signs of anxiety related to perineal care. Financial exploitation can be identified by sudden changes in financial status, such as not being able to obtain prescription medicines anymore or suddenly disheveled and unkempt (Sorenson, 2012).
Risk factors associated with Elder Abuse
Many nonprofessional caregivers, such as spouses, adult children, other relatives and friends, find taking care of an elder to be satisfying and enriching. But the responsibilities and