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Shippy's avatar

Why do you think so much emphasis is placed on child abuse and not elderly abuse?

Asked by Shippy (9852 points ) February 27th, 2013

There seems to be so many help lines, so many systems for assisting children suffering abuse. There are also therapies to aid them in recovery. Yet with elderly abuse in old age homes, there appears to be none of this. Most of the abuse is only ever caught on cameras placed by the family. How could one stop this type of abuse? Should all old age homes have for example cameras in the rooms. I just get this feeling that people overall care less about old people. Have you had any experience of this? How did you resolve it? It worries me a lot, even though my own parents are deceased. Since I know, out there some elderly people are being harmed by caregivers. Plus if you Google it or You Tube it, there are so many cases caught on camera by members of the family. Why do people care less about old people and more about children?

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Children are the real innocents in our culture.

DominicX's avatar

I have to agree with @marinelife. It’s not that children being innocent means that elder abuse is okay, but that child abuse is even worse than elder abuse, which is already bad. And since we have the whole idea of child abuse destroying someone in the future, it’s seen as something that must be prevented at all costs.

tom_g's avatar

In my experience, people are uncomfortable with how we care for the elderly in general. Talking about it will likely bring up emotional issues and guilt related to abandonment, etc. To focus on elderly abuse is to stir a pot many don’t want stirred.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

There’s no eldercare system in the U.S. All we have are extremely pricey, disconnected facilities, most of which are shareholder-owned and have profit motives.

YARNLADY's avatar

I guess we are just lucky where I live, there is an Elder Abuse hot-line

Unbroken's avatar

I work in a care facility for the elderly. We are much more likely to see elder abuse happen from family members then staff.

If it were otherwise I wouldn’t hesitate to say so.

The problem is there is an agency that will help in these situations but so often the elder will deny abuse is occuring. It could be financial, emotional or physical.

Often when family members don’t agree on care the resident ends up paying.

It is better to have this planned a poa you trust finances in order and wishes made clear and public because these issues are often fueled by these triggers.

Not to say elder abuse doesn’t occur in these places and hasn’t here. Even not making sure the resident is properly hydrated or leaving them in the restroom too long without assistance is seen as abuse here. We do everything we can to avoid it but sometimes we are understaffed and not able to help everyone when they need it as soon as they need it.

Bellatrix's avatar

I think it is starting to get more attention where I am. I can recall a number of news stories on the topic. I suspect old people who are victims of abuse either can’t communicate what’s going on because of dementia etc. or choose not to because of humiliation or not wanting to cause trouble or get in more trouble. So, the crimes can, in the same way as child abuse, remain hidden. Family members aren’t always attentive or even present or they may be the abusers themselves.

It wasn’t so many years ago that child abuse was a hidden crime. It happened but people didn’t talk about it as they do now. I suspect elder abuse will go the same way. As people start speaking out, more safe guards will be put in place. I hope so anyway. Abuse shouldn’t be allowed to go on regardless of the age of the victim and I think our old people can be just as innocent as children because some of them can no longer communicate the abuse is happening.

Sunny2's avatar

The elderly often have some dementia, physical loss of mobility and are less likely to complain.

Earthgirl's avatar

It’s very sad when it happens and no one seems to care. But when people above mentioned dementia it made me think. Maybe the reason is that if it isn’t caught on camera it is so hard to prove. Often enough elderly people claim abuse, they think is real, out of a form of dementia. Here is an article about the problem of false accusations. That would seem to really complicate things.

lookingglassx3's avatar

For lack of a better expression and without meaning to sound disrespectful, eldery people have lived their life. What I mean is they have developed their personalities and hopefully matured without any complications. However, children are yet to fully develop their personalities. Children most likely will not have the mental faculties to cope and assure themselves over abuse. While an elderly person is able to hate whomever is abusing them and whatnot, children are more likely to become confused. In our local newspaper a man was jailed for the rape of a young girl. I can’t remember the full story in detail but I think each time he raped her, he told her it was her fault because she was too beautiful for him to resist. Her parents then told the local newspaper that since he has been jailed the girl has cut all her hair off and won’t wear any jewellery or nice clothes because she doesn’t want to be beautiful anymore. Children aren’t able suss out the situation properly and it can damage them mentally, whereas an elderly person can in most cases distinguish the difference between right and wrong and alert the appropriate people if they are being abused. I think people also overall have less time and patience with elderly people in general – their minds and bodies are slowing up and people can’t do with the hassle.

mattbrowne's avatar

There’s also emphasis on elderly abuse in nursing homes. Like for children there’s dependency with a lack of self-protection abilities.

susanc's avatar

@mattbrowne nailed this: in both cases it’s about helplessness.
But old people aren’t cute, so we’re less horrified when they’re not treated gently. In fact, since most old people have been the parents of someone who was once a child, we might even kind of hate them. Yep.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

My mother spent a few miserable weeks at a $6,800-per-month memory-care facility. The facility claimed to have special expertise with helping dementia patients, and it promised to keep my Mom safe.

In reality, the employees spent almost all of their time goofing off in a private employees’ lounge, and the residents had no locks on their bedroom doors. The place was crawling with sexually-active, yet mentally incompetent, men who groped and molested the female residents, walked around naked, and masturbated in front of people. There were also physically and verbally aggressive residents who hit, screamed, and swore at other residents. There was no supervision and, thus, no protection for the victims.

How do I know this? Because I saw it myself. I was groped twice—breasts and crotch—while visiting Mom. I had to intervene when people put their hands on Mom or started yelling nonsensical obscenities at her. I saw a man walk into her bedroom and drop his trousers and underwear. Mom lived day and night in a state of fear.

I had a meeting with the facility’s Executive Director, who shrugged and told me that he couldn’t do anything about the conditions at this place. I complained to the state and county licensing authorities and adult protective agencies, with no success.

If someone such as me—sane and rational, and with no memory problems—can’t effectively fight such egregious conditions, who can?

I immediately started making arrangements to get my mother out of there. But, what about all the residents who don’t have family nearby, visiting daily, to fight for their rights? Families pay $6,800 per month believing that Mom or Grandma’s being treated well in a safe facility.

Shippy's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul I so hear you. I sleep better now my parents are gone. I used to lie awake worrying myself sick every night. They were both like defenseless children near the end.

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