Tackling Elder Abuse; Nurses' Role

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Introduction: As we age the incidence of illness and disability increases. This often leads to changes in living arrangements, and the ability to manage personal affairs is compromised. This means that many older adults turn the management of certain activities over to others, often opening the door to mistreatment or elder abuse (Eliopoulos 2010). Elder abuse may be defined as “A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights” (HSE, 2002a, p25). Elder abuse is a significant social challenge in contemporary western society. There were 1,870 referrals of alleged abuse…show more content…
Sexual abuse (at 0.05%) was the least common type of reported abuse (Duncan, 2010). In the US, the Adult Protective Services Agency deals with all reports of elder abuse and neglect, but it is estimated that only one in ten cases is actually reported (Mauk 2006). Nurses play a crucial role in insuring all cases of suspected abuse are reported. “...any incident of abuse or suspected abuse, or ongoing abusive situations should be reported to the line manager immediately” (HSE 2005, pg5). Nurses are the ideal advocates for vulnerable older people. Nurses should be cognisant of the reality of elder abuse and realise their place in influencing health and social policy to protect the older adult. Abuse of the elderly occurs in the home and in institutional settings such as nursing homes. The home is the principal site of care for most older people. The abuser can be any person in a position of authority or family member. Perpetrators of abuse in the home are commonly adult children, spouses or paid care workers (Heath and Schofield 1999). Often long-term caregiving relationships can lead family members or staff to ‘burn out’ and abuse may be an unfortunate consequence (Mauk, 2006). In institutional care settings such as residential and nursing homes staff are often over worked, have
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