Elder Abuse: Society's Dirty Little Secret

Topics: Gerontology, Abuse, Sociology Pages: 2 (673 words) Published: November 2, 2013

Elder Abuse: Society's Dirty Little Secret
Patricia James
Western Governors University

Any elderly person is at risk of being abused by family members, caregivers or strangers. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or psychological. Abuse can be categorized as neglect, abandonment, financial or material exploitation, or it may even involve self-neglect. Abuse of our elders is usually at the hands of a loving family or a trusted caregiver which makes this society’s dirty little secret.

Elder Abuse: Society's Dirty Little Secret
Society should be concerned about the abuse of our elderly people. That segment of population is getting larger as the baby-boomers grow older. It’s estimated that by 2025 our elderly population, aged 60 or older, will double to approximately 1.2 billion people (Questia trusted online research website, n.d.). This paper will attempt to explain how and why an adult child, grandchild, relative or spouse may abuse an elderly loved one. Elder abuse by a trusted family member usually occurs in the home. The ill-treatment comes in a myriad of ways: infliction of pain (physical or psychological), injury, theft, money or medication mismanagement, denial of food or care, sexual abuse, exploitation and confinement. What perpetuates elder abuse by relatives is a mixture of financial, psychological, physical and social factors. The functionalistic perspective of sociology examines how society shares a value system in which members know what is expected from each other (Tischler, 2007, p. 19). The expectations of an elderly person by a family member may be unrealistic leading to intentional or unintentional abuse. The elder’s health may have deteriorated in a short period of time, causing the family more work and increased expenses, resulting in a change in the family dynamic from harmonious to dysfunctional. Elder abuse points to several specific risk...

References: Questia trusted online research website. (n.d.). http://www.questia.com/library/sociology-and-anthropology/social-issues/aging/abuse-of-the-elderly
Robinson, L., Saisan, J., & Segal, J. (2013). Elder abuse & neglect: Warning signs, risk factors, prevention, and reporting abuse. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm
Tischler, H. L. (2007). Functionalism. In E. Mitchell (Ed.), Cengage advantage books: Introduction to Sociology (10th ed. (p. 19). [Cengage Advantange Books]. Retrieved from
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