Around the world, abuse of people 60 and older has become more common. A new World Health Organization study published in Lancet Global Health reveals that around one in six older adults are abused. To arrive at this finding, researchers looked at 52 studies of elder abuse in 28 countries.
Abuse comes in different forms. Psychological abuse is most prevalent, affecting more than one in ten (11.6 percent) older adults. With psychological abuse, a person’s self-worth is harmed. The person may be called names. Or, the person may be made to feel embarrassed or scared. Or, the person may be isolated from family and friends.
Financial abuse is also relatively common, affecting about one in fourteen (6.8 percent) older adults. In these cases, the abuser may take the older person’s money or other property.
Neglect affects more than one in 25 (4.2 percent) older adults. In cases of neglect, basic needs of the older adult are not met, including medical care, food, housing, and clothing,
Physical abuse affects about one in 40 (2.6 percent) older people.
Elder abuse in any of these forms occurs between older people and the people they trust, and it affects the health and well-being of older people. Abuse can cause depression, stress, anxiety, as well as pain. Abuse also increases the likelihood of hospitalization, emergency care, nursing home care and premature death.
Today there are one billion people 60 and older around the world. That number is projected to double by 2050. But, despite the documented prevalence of elder abuse, governments are not addressing elder abuse to the extent they need to.
The researchers propose more studies on the frequency of elder abuse, along with evidence-based guidance on how best to address and prevent elder abuse.
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