The New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA)reported that in a study of 800 cases of "alleged abuse" most of the victims were female and "more than half of the alleged perpetrators were male" and as young as 13 years of age (Brogden, 2000,52). Also, nearly two-thirds of the perpetrators were relatives of the abused, in most cases children of the abused. Meanwhile, a study taken by the Chronic Illness Center in Cleveland, Ohio, reported that of 404 patients, 9.6% showed signs of physical abuse (Brogden, 52).
Another study (done by the National Centre for Elder Abuse) showed that there was an "iceberg theory" at work; in other words, if two older people report being physically abused, there may be ten or more under the water line that did not report the violence against them (Brogden, 53).
Pamela Teaster with the National Center on Elder Abuse published a report based on data collected in the year 2000, and received data from 54 states (including U.S. territories). The data received by Teaster shows forty of those states had a total of 169,946 "multiple, substantiated allegations of maltreatment" and 20.1% of those incidents involved "physical abuse." The victims were "predominately women," and 65.8% were Caucasian while 17.4% were African-American (Teaster, 2000, ix).
Forty-six percent of abused elderly adults were 80 years of age or older and the majority of cases involved "domestic settings" (someone in the family perpetrating violence) while just 8.3% of the physical abuse cases happened in "institutional settings" (i.e., nursing homes and other institutions) (Teaster, ix).
The second premise of this paper: how to protect older people from abuse and how to detect abuse. The National Association of Adult Protective Services Administrators (NAAPSA) published a "Elder Abuse Awareness Kit," designed to protect older people from physical harm.
The way it works is that when someone suspects that an elderly person has been suffering from abuse… that person calls an abuse hotline or phones a local adult protective services (APS) office. The staff then assigns a trained person to look into the matter, and if it is urgent, the staff phones law enforcement, or emergency medical staff, depending on the situation.
If it is not an urgent or emergency-level problem, the staff phones someone who knows the alleged victim, and proceeds to investigate. Information is gathered and the case is discussed with supervisors and indeed, if the elderly person has been abused, protective services gets involved. Signs of abuse include scratches, bruises, burns cuts and even broken bones.
In conclusion, it is a sad state of affairs when an innocent older person is violently attacked or otherwise put through some form of physical harm. To prevent these kinds of unjustified physical abuses, neighbors and friends need to keep a watchful eye on the elderly, and when there is a strong suspicion that abuse has occurred, authorities should be notified.
Brogden, Michael, and Nijhar, Preeti. (2000). Crime, Abuse, and The elderly. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis U.S..
Hickey, Eric W. (2003). Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
National Association of Adult Protective Services Administrators
(20010. Elder Abuse Awareness Kit. Retrieved February 12, 2012
National Center on Elder Abuse / Administration on Aging. (2011)
Retrieved February 13, 2012, from http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.
Teaster, Pamela B. (2000). A Response to the Abuse of Vulnerable
Adults: The 2000 Survey of State Adult…