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Recognizing — and Preventing — Elder Abuse

June 19, 2014

Since 2006, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day has been recognized by eldercare advocates every June. Elder abuse, of course, is something that people should be aware of year round.

A PHI curriculum has been developed to not only recognize elder abuse, but to prevent it from happening in long-term care settings.

But first, what is elder abuse? The Administration on Aging says that, in general, elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.

Elder abuse may be physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation, emotional abuse, abandonment, and/or self-neglect. The Administration on Aging defines each of these:

  • Physical Abuse — inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
  • Sexual Abuse — non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect — the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Exploitation — the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse — inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
  • Abandonment — desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-Neglect — characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential self-care tasks, in turn threatening his/her own health or safety.

PHI Commitment to Preventing Elder Abuse

A primary focus in the field of aging has been on defining, recognizing, and reporting abuse. This is an important priority and necessary for providing clear expectations to those who work in the field.

However, equally as important and often overlooked is to expend like effort and resources towards the prevention of abuse. This requires a belief that with knowledge, skills, strategies, and support caregivers can have the capacity to partner with elders in healthy and supportive ways.

PHI has created the skills-based Training to Prevent Adult Abuse and Neglect (TPAAN) program to provide caregiver education that builds these necessary skills to prevent abuse. It has been in a train-the-trainer program developed for and implemented throughout Indiana.

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