Understanding Elder Abuse: Be Part of the Solution


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, held on June 15 each year, aims to promote a better understanding of the abuse and neglect of older persons. The day raises awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect. 

Elder abuse is one of the least investigated types of abuse and violence. It can happen within family homes, care homes, or via in-house care services. Elders may also face various forms of emotional abuse or neglect from service providers, such as healthcare.

Elderly individuals within our communities are easily the most overlooked. For today’s blog, I wanted to explore elder abuse issues, how they might show up in our work, and what we can do to support them.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is a growing problem with significant societal implications. According to the American Psychological 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 a caregiver or a person the elder trusts.

The National Center on Elder Abuse advises that elders in our communities might become victims of seven types of abuse. Below is a brief outline of each:

  1. Physical Abuse: The use of physical force that results in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment.
  2. Sexual Abuse: Any form of non-consensual sexual contact.
  3. Emotional Abuse: The infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or non-verbal acts.
  4. Financial Exploitation: Illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets without consent or with coerced consent.
  5. Neglect: The refusal or failure to provide appropriate care, including feeding, hygiene, social contact, or medical support.
  6. Abandonment: The desertion of an older adult by an individual who has physical custody or has assumed responsibility for providing care to the elder.
  7. Self-neglect: Behaviors of an older adult that threaten the elder’s health or safety.

How We Can Help

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.

To be able to do so, it’s essential to develop our knowledge in this often unspoken area of abuse and to familiarise ourselves with the advocacy resources available. If you suspect elder abuse, you can reach out to Adult Protective Services in your area to make a report or receive information on local resources.

Here is a list with several excellent resources that provide overviews of definitions, programs, services, and stories related to elder abuse and elder justice that can help you do this:

Immigration Evaluations With Senior Immigrants

As an immigration evaluation therapist, it’s essential to consider these unique circumstances and how they might impact senior immigrants needing psychological care. This includes social and emotional support, physical support, and support overcoming language barriers.

When working with senior immigrants, mental health clinicians must be aware of the factors that influence the psychological evaluation of older immigrants. This includes social and emotional support, physical support, and support overcoming language barriers.

As with any unique client group, to fully fulfill our role and provide the best possible service to our clients, we need to make sure we work within their nuanced lived experiences and adapt our approach where and when possible.

Cecilia Racine: Immigration Evaluation Therapist

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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