Elder Abuse

"Pity the sorrows of a poor old man,"

- Thomas Moss (1740-1808), English minister and poet

"The Beggar" (1769)

I Have written about the "battered child" but unfortunately, at the other extreme is its (less known) equivalent, the "battered elder." The Merck Manual defines "elder abuse" as the "physical or psychologic mistreatment, neglect, or financial exploitation of the elderly." So it's clear that there are so many more layers of abuse possible in the old. In fact, abuse takes many forms, according to the US Administration on Aging:

• Physical abuse - inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior. For example, slapping, hitting or restraining by physical or chemical means.

• Sexual abuse - non consensual sexual contact of any kind.

• Neglect - the failure of the responsible to feed, provide shelter or health care, or protection of the vulnerable elder.

• Exploitation - the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property or assets of a senior for someone else's benefit.

• Emotional abuse - humiliating, threatening, intimidating - inflicting mental pain and anguish or distress on an elder person through verbal or non verbal acts.

• Abandonment - desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed responsibility or custody of that person.

• Self-neglect -the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.

Signs of Abuse. Sadly, statistics reveal that up to 85% of elder abuse is inflicted by their own relatives. This could be a spouse, child, or younger sibling that was left the responsibility for the care of the elder. Obvious signs of physical abuse are bruises, broken bones, burns. Examine for broken dentures or eyeglasses. Joint swellings are not necessarily just arthritis but could be sprains or dislocations. Bedsores, poor hygiene, unattended medical needs, and weight loss may be signs of neglect. Abused old people are usually withdrawn and will not want to talk about his or her suffering in an attempt to sometimes protect the provider.

Complex situation. Most of the time, elder abuse is the expression of problems from both the victim and the perpetrator. An old person with cognitive impairment from dementia (Alzheimer's disease) may be aggressive and disruptive. Caregivers may become frustrated and lose patience. Perpetrators can have a history of violence, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, making it easier for them to hurt the vulnerable old. In the Philippines, add the over arching burden of poverty.

What to do. If a victim seen at the Emergency Room is in immediate danger, consider admitting the patient and informing the police. This is also reportable to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) (632)931-81-01 to 07; DSWD website http://www.dswd.gov.ph

A US 13-year longitudinal study shows that abused elderly people are at a higher risk of death compared to the non-abused. The abused had a survival rate of 9% versus 40% for the non-victimized. Let's open our eyes to this hidden shame. We should love our old, not hurt them.

E-mail: jspujalte@yahoo.com


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • 13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital
    13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital

    Thirteen of the 15 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen who survived the bloody firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano last month are ready to go home after a month of medical treatment, a police official said yesterday. Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the two remaining survivors will have to stay in hospital for further treatment, one of whom has shrapnel embedded near his spine. One of the two SAF commando survivors is still …

  • U.S. flies most advanced surveillance plane from Philippines

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - The United States has begun flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, out of the Philippines for patrols over the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday, acknowledging the flights for the first time. The United States, the Philippines' oldest and closest ally, has promised to share "real time" information on what is happening in Philippine waters as China steps up its activities in the South China Sea. China claims most of …

  • Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2
    Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2

    How well does this P3,999 offering from an underdog in the local mobile industry stack up against the competition? Let's find out. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea
    US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea

    The United States has deployed its newest and most advanced surveillance aircraft for patrols over the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. The P-8A Poseidon aircraft completed more than 180 flight hours from Feb. 1 to 21 from Clark Air Base, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options