Elder abuse: an introduction
DOI link for Elder abuse: an introduction
Elder abuse: an introduction book
Abuse of older people is a growing challenge in all societies. This is particularly pertinent as demographics demonstrate a global ageing population. For example, Leeson and Harper (2008) indicate that approximately 8 per cent of the world’s population was aged 60 years and over in 1950, but by 2006 this ﬁgure had increased to 11 per cent, with projections of a rise to 22 per cent by 2050. Elder abuse can occur in any setting that includes older people and in any socio-economic group. The topic of elder abuse has a relatively recent history in public discourse, but there are challenges in deﬁnition, understandings and constituent elements. As with other forms of interpersonal violence, elder abuse is an unpalatable taboo subject often shrouded in secrecy and shame and can be considered a ‘hidden problem’ in society (Baker and Heitkemper 2005). However, elder abuse has serious consequences. Apart from the immediate eﬀects of abuse, such as possible bruises, fractures, distress and ﬁnancial loss (Lindbloom et al. 2007), there are enduring eﬀects such as premature mortality (Lachs et al. 1998), depression and continued psychological distress (Mowlam et al. 2007, Laﬀerty et al. 2011) as well as a continued experience of fear (Comijs et al. 1998). In order to provide an assessment of perspectives of elder abuse in our
selected countries, this chapter provides a foundation in understanding the topic of elder abuse. As such, it examines issues of old age, the emergence of elder abuse in public discourse, terminological and deﬁnitional challenges, prevalence and theoretical frameworks. The reality of elder abuse can diﬀer due to issues of legislative imperatives, mandatory reporting, cultural norms, response systems, policy guidelines and so forth, but this diversity should not be used as a barrier to addressing the topic through a comprehensive, rights based approach.