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Understanding Elder Abuse

As a significant part of our population inches closer to old age, elder abuse continues to be a pressing topic. Defined as a “single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where this an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”, elder abuse can take many shapes.

Part of preventing and stopping elder abuse is knowing how to recognize it and taking action to ensure that others are protected.

The Prevalence and Consequences of Elder Abuse

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 15.7 percent of individuals over the age of 60 are victims of abuse. This figure is likely conservative when considering the likelihood of under or unreported cases. Elder abuse can present under several forms including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Financial abuse

The consequences of elder abuse are devastating, both at an individual and societal level. Victims of elder abuse are more likely to require long-term care, emergency services and hospitalization and are at an increased risk of death.

The WHO stresses that public health action must be taken to protect the rights of older people to ensure their health and safety. Unless the health care and social service sectors are prepared to identify, prevent, and treat elder abuse, the problem will continue to be a significant issue.

Navigating Uncharted Territory

Whether you have a loved one who is elderly or are a senior citizen yourself, understanding the legal rights of a senior is critical. When a person is no longer able to do the things they once could, questions arise as to how to proceed. From determining who is authorized to make important decisions to considerations about where to live, navigating old age can be complicated. Worrying about elder abuse adds a new, frightening dimension.

Given the complex nature of managing the care of older persons, working alongside a lawyer who is well-versed in elder law can be empowering. An experienced lawyer can provide guidance and support, ensuring that families understand their options and take the appropriate measures to protect themselves and those they care about.

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