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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, held on June 15 each year, aims to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
Elder abuse is one of the least investigated types of violence and does not get addressed in national action plans as frequently as other vital social issues.
Social workers, therapists, family members of older adults, and others who work with this population are well-positioned to influence the lives of elderly victims.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a growing problem with significant societal implications. According to the American Psychologists Association, elder abuse is the infliction of physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, or financial harm on an older adult. Elder abuse can also take the form of intentional or unintentional neglect of an older adult by the caregiver.
The National Center on Elder Abuse distinguishes between seven different types of elder abuse. These include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial/material exploitation, neglect, abandonment, and self-neglect.
Types of Elder Abuse
- Physical abuse. Use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment.
- Sexual abuse. Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person.
- Emotional abuse. Infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or non-verbal acts.
- Financial/material exploitation. Illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets.
- Neglect. Refusal, or failure, to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elderly person.
- Abandonment. Desertion of an elderly person by an individual who has physical custody of the elder or a person who has assumed responsibility for providing care to the elder.
- Self-neglect. Behaviors of an elderly person that threaten the elder’s health or safety.
We Can Help
In working with older adult clients and their family members, colleagues of all disciplines will inevitably encounter individuals impacted by elder abuse.
As therapists, we are particularly well-positioned to play a role in preventing and facilitating the response to elder abuse across a broad spectrum of settings.
It’s essential to enhance our elder justice knowledge, skills and advocacy.
Here is a list with several excellent resources that provide overviews of definitions, programs, services, and stories related to elder abuse and elder justice:
- National Center on Elder Abuse
- Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect
- The New York City Elder Abuse Center
- Ageless Alliance
- National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
- National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
- National Adult Protective Services Association
- International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
- National Resource Center on LGBT Aging
- Administration on Aging
- National Institute on Aging
- National Council on Aging
Immigration Psychological Evaluations on senior immigrants
As an immigration evaluation therapist, it’s important to consider these unique circumstances and how they can impact senior immigrants in need of psychological care. Last year I wrote about this in a blog post.
The key considerations to keep in mind when treating senior immigrants is that mental health clinicians need to be aware of the various factors that influence the psychological evaluation of elder immigrants.
Ultimately, the needs of a senior immigrant in the US are centered around family, access to information, financial support structures, and physical health factors. The only way you can conduct a successful evaluation is if you address all these influences as deeply as possible.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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