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Elder abuse Essay

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Elder abuse is described as “knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable adult” (http://www. onlinece. net). This may occur at the hands of a family member or at the old people homes. It has however been established that family members are the majority of abusers. The abuse also occurs to women more that it does to men. There are various ways in which an elderly person can be abused. These include physical, emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual and also neglect.

Some of the abuse is easily recognizable while others cannot be discovered unless the elderly person discloses it. There are some theories that have been advanced to explain the reason as to why this happens. These theories look at abusers behavior towards the elderly person in regard to their past behavior and current circumstance. This paper discusses in detail the problems that are faced by the elderly people, the different types of abuse caused by the caregiver and also the theories that have been advanced to explain the behavior of the caregiver.

The discussion will begin with the various forms of abuse that the elderly experience at the hands of their caregivers. The physical form of abuse occurs when the person intentionally causes bodily harm to the elderly person. This may be through biting, burning, slapping, kicking, shoving, pinching, beating, hitting, pushing and may also involve the restraining with either ropes or chains. There is also the use of objects to cause harm to the elderly like canning or belting. These forms of abuse can be easily noticeable by the marks they leave on the person’s body (Podnieks E. , Kosberg J. I. , Lowenstein A. 56-194).

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There are however other forms of physical abuse that can occur and are hard to be noticed. This would include either over-medication or under-medication of the elderly person in case they are on medication. This in the long-run leads to an increase of poor health and may lead to death especially in the case of over-medication. There is also the issue of not giving them enough food to eat leading to their near starvation and also poor health. In the countries where severe weather occurs especially during summer and winter they may be exposed to it leading to further medical complications.

When it comes to the emotional and psychological abuse involves behavior towards the person that demeans them as human beings. These forms of behavior would include subjecting them to silent treatment, calling them names having an intimidating attitude towards them, threatening them with something that they fear, lying or withholding information so that they become worried, humiliating and/or harassing them. It may also include treating them like children instead of respecting them as adults and also isolating them from their friends, other relatives and also the activities that they enjoy engaging in.

This form of abuse has not yet been accepted in some states as a form of abuse but its impact on the elderly leads to the conclusion that it is a form of abuse. The abuser does so through manipulation, threats or force. This has a negative impact on the elderly persons’ emotional and psychological well-being but this is mostly mistaken as dementia. The person becomes very depressed and it is very easy for him or her to commit suicide. It also affects their sense of purpose and they may consider themselves as useless.

There is the caregiver neglect which occurs when the caregiver has taken upon him or herself the role of providing care to the elderly person yet does not. It occurs when the caregiver withholds the attention that the elderly person requires. He or she may also not provide enough emotional and social support. On the part of not meeting the physical needs of the person, the provision of food, water and medication may be neglected.

The elderly person may also need to be assisted with the performance of daily activities and also those concerned with hygiene yet the caregiver does not do this (Bonnie R. J. & Wallace R. B. 260-310). Apart from this, the caregiver may have pledged then him or herself to paying for the necessities required by the elderly person. This may include paying the bills thus causing them to suffer when the necessities are not available. They may also have taken it upon themselves to manage the elderly persons’ money and may not be doing a good job of it. The caregiver may neglect to properly use the elderly persons’ money well causing it to be reduced at a rapid rate without really helping the owner. This may end up leaving the elderly person poor.

Sexual abuse is one of the form of abuses that is least reported because of the trauma it causes to the elderly person. It is described as “sexual contact with any person who is incapable of giving consent” (http://www. onlinece. net). For this form of abuse to occur, sexual intercourse does not necessarily have to take place. When it has occurred it becomes very hard for the person to report to anyone that it has and most of the time it is discovered by doctors when conducting medical check ups or when the person develops unexplained sexually transmitted infection/diseases.

It occurs when the elderly person is subjected to inappropriate touching either on their bodies or they are forced to touch another person genital area. They may also be forced to pose suggestively for pictures to be taken or forced to watch pornography. They may be actually forced to have sex with a third party or with the family member. Rape and sodomy occurs in these instances. There is also the possibility of forcing them to be nude or watching them when in bathroom. Exhibitionism on the part of the caregiver is also sexual abuse to the elderly person who is forced to watch.

Financial abuse is also referred to as financial exploitation. This occurs when through fraudulent means the caregiver takes and uses the elderly persons’ money. This may be through fraud, forced properly transfers, forgery and improper use of the legal power given to the caregiver in the handling of the money. It also happens when one lies about the use of the money and gets it from the elderly person. When denied access to their own money, that can also seen as financial abuse. There is also the insistence of inheritance by the caregiver which emotionally pressurizes the old person and may cause depression (Ammerman R.J. & Hersen M. 124-162).

There are various theories that have been expounded that are used to explain the behavior of the person who abuses the elderly especially the caregiver elder abuse. These theories include intrapersonal theory, neurobiological theory, feminist theory, social learning theory, and the abuser theory. None of these theories clearly explains the reason as to why this happens but they are all used in the attempt to understand this phenomenon. They mostly affect deal with the social reasons that cause the abuse to happen.

The abuser stress theory explains that the abuser does so because of being overwhelmed by the duty that is upon them to take care of the elderly person. They already had a busy life before the elderly person came in to their homes and they see it as a burden to take care of them. This is especially because they need care everyday of the week and almost at every hour. This can occur when the elderly person suffers from an illness whether mental or physical. It therefore goes ahead to suggest that the abuse is caused by the stress and frustrations they are experiencing.

The intrapersonal theory is a bit different because it claims that the abuser does so knowingly and voluntarily. The high possibility is that they were either abused as children or watched others being abused. This may have caused them to grow into violent and aggressive people who use both violence and aggression to get what they want. If the elderly person does not do what they want, they voluntarily choose to use violence on them and actually see actually it as only way to deal with the situation.

Their demands may include attention and emotional fulfillment which the elderly person may be unable to give (Thobaben M. 112-113). The social learning theory refers to the socialization process of the abuser. It assumes that the abuser may have learned to behave in a violent and aggressive manner. It as a child the abuser associated violence with power and control, then it means that when they commit acts of violence as adults they do so willingly. They actually make a decision to act in that manner because that is the only way they know of how to deal with situations.

They may have experienced violence in themselves or may have watched it occur so many times such that it ends up seeming normal. These type of abusers do not see anything wrong with their behavior towards the elderly person. This is also associated with the constant images of violence that people see as children. Closely related to the social learning theory is feminist theory. This theory is based on the fact that most societies are patriarchal in nature. The men are usually socialized to believe that they have the right to use violence, coercion and even manipulation on women to get what they want.

This is usually a cause of domestic violence in marriage and the children learn the same. As adults, the male children may end up abusing their mothers if they are their caregivers because this is what they expect should happen. They have witnesses it occurring all through their lives and tend to treat their mothers the same way their fathers treated them (http://www. onlinece. net). The neurobiological theory assumes that violence is a genetic disorder. There are some people who are said to be genetically predisposed to exhibit violence.

In the body, there is presence of serotonin which controls the aggression in a human being. Insufficient amounts of serotonin leads to the loss of control resulting in violence behavior. If the abuser as a child was abused, this may have changed the way their bodies react to stress. This may cause them to be very sensitive to any form of stress leading to violent behavior at the slightest provocation. This means that the abuser is not doing so voluntarily but lacks the ability to control their behavior (Cardona J. R. P. , Meyer E. , Schiamberg L. & Post L. 451-470)

In conclusion, one has to admit that the various theories explaining the reason why family caregivers are the major perpetrators of elderly abuse leave a lot unexplained. It is also very hard to know if the elderly are being abused especially by their family members because they see it as tantamount to betrayal. Unless one is keen to observe the behavior of the elderly and know the signs of abuse, the problem may be discovered too late. The people who can easily discover this problem are doctors and social workers unless the elderly person is brave enough to report the case.

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