Why does abuse of the elderly happen?
Abuse of older people can take many different forms. It’s an expression of power and control, exercised by the perpetrator over the victim.
It can be spontaneous, where a perpetrator takes advantage of a situation, or it could be a premeditated and calculated act.
These types of abuse stem from the real or perceived vulnerability of older people.
Through domestic abuse
This is often gender related with women often being the victim. It has many similarities to the experiences of younger women, however there are some notable differences for older women:
- Older victims are more likely to experience abuse from an adult family member or current intimate partner
- Older victims are less likely to attempt to leave the year before accessing help, and more likely to be living with the perpetrator after getting support
- Older victims are significantly more likely to have a disability.
This is typically through environments and situations that create institutional attitudes and approaches which put older people at risk. In an institutional setting, abuse is more likely to occur when:
- Staff are poorly trained and poorly supervised
- The care provision has inadequate funding, both by care providers and also by statutory commissioners of care.
Through lack of knowledge and skills
A lack of knowledge and skills, or external support for those in positions of trust can lead to abuse.
This can be seen in the neglect of older people.
The impact of neglect is significant and is a form of abuse regardless of motivation or intent, so if you see or experience this, it’s important to recognise it and find help.