Adult / Elderly Abuse
Problem and Concepts
Adults gradually grow older. They become physically helpless. Their sight and hearing worsen, the physical mobility vanishes, serious physiological and mental diseases develop. Unfortunately, very old people often are exposed to inattention and abuse.
Abuse can take different forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, financial exploitation and full inattention.
As well as all forms of abuse, the abuse of the elderly is a complex problem which society not always understands. (Age Concern Scotland, 2003)
The case of “Violence over old adults” was defined in Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001.
If abuse occurs, the law has to be applied as well as in any other type of abuse. But in the situation of elderly, it is not always possible to report and prove the facts of the abuse.
Were offered several theories to explain violence over elderly (Phillips, 1986).
The most popular “conflict theory” – because this theory well displays the relationship between caregiver and the elderly. It is known that caregivers are very overloaded with work and some of them offend or neglect the person for whom they care. If to look at some cases of violence over elderly, then it is possible to see that sometimes caregivers is the person with psychopathology, and these can explain what occurs.
Several additional theories were used to explain violence over aged:
the exchange theory, which describes how some contradictions which exist between the elderly and surrounding people originate from the relations put in family.
the political-economic theory, which focuses on difficulties for elderly in society, which leaves people in poverty, isolation and eliminates their importance in the life of the community.
These theories underline some social problems, such as loss of importance of elderly people in transfer of values, traditions and a certain cultural heritage.
Most plans for the protection of the elderly against abuse are based on the Care Act (Care Act, 2014).
Sections of the Act require a local authority to promote individual wellbeing and “protection from abuse and neglect” (Section 7).
The local authority should inform people about the existing problem of abuse over older people; and, to keep in touch with families where there live dependent elderly, to have a close connection with hospitals. To prevent and stop abuse and negligence where it is possible. To try to improve the living conditions of dependent elderly. To provide all the necessary information on how to stay safe.
Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to notice signs of violence in time. In difficult cases, access to families can be complicated. Each case is individual, it is impossible to define the general rules for everybody.
“Safeguarding is everybody’s business” (Age UK, 2017).
All parts of society have to be involved: health and social care professionals, housing sector or social security.
1. Age Concern Scotland, 2003. Elder Abuse and the Law in Scotland. Edinburgh: CS/Age Concern Scotland. Available at: Accessed 27 September 2018.
2. PROTECTION FROM ABUSE (SCOTLAND) ACT 2001. Available at: Accessed 9 October 2018.
3. Phillips, L., Wolf, R., Pillemer, K., 1986. Elder Abuse: Conflict in the Family. Theoretical explanations of elder abuse: Competing hypotheses and unresolved issues. Dover, MA: Auburn House.
4. Wolf, R., 2003. Elder Abuse and Neglect: History and Concepts; Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America. Washington (DC): National Academic Press (US).
5. J Elder Abuse Negl. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 Feb 25.
Published in final edited form as: J Elder Abuse Negl. 2011 Oct. 23 (4). p.348-365. Available at: Accessed 27 September 2018.