New Study Addresses Impact of Elder Abuse on Long-Term Health

ian-schneider-95541-300x200Residents of Valley Center, California who currently have loved ones in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Southern California should take note of a recent study that addresses the impact of elder abuse on the long-term health of seniors. According to a recent study supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and published in Lancet Global Health, approximately one out of every six seniors experiences some form of elder abuse. As the study clarifies, this is “a higher figure than previously estimated,” and it is only expected to increase as the population of older adults increases. Moreover, the study also suggests that certain types of elder abuse have long-term health effects that have not been sufficiently studied.

Higher Rates of Elder Abuse Among Senior Population Than Previously Reported

The recent WHO study suggests that more than 15% of the elderly population will experience some type of abuse in old age, from nursing home abuse to neglect at an assisted-living facility. As the study highlights, this number is significantly higher than previously estimates of elder abuse. As a fact sheet from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) indicates, experts previously believed that elder abuse occurred in about one out of every 10 seniors, or 10% of the elderly population.

What types of elder abuse did the WHO study determine to be most common? The highest rate of abuse identified was psychological abuse. In declining order, the study identified incidents of neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Yet the fact that elder abuse rates have been underreported is not the biggest problem, the study suggests. Rather, additional research needs to be done to determine the long-term health effects of psychological elder abuse.

Long-Term Health Effects of Psychological Elder Abuse

While “all types of elder abuse can have an impact on the health and wellbeing of the older person,” according to the study, psychological abuse may result in particularly harmful long-term health consequences. Psychological and physical abuse can result in “traumatic injury and pain,” but they can also lead to “depression, stress, and anxiety.” When an older adult’s psychological health is damaged, it can “lead to an increased risk of nursing home placement, use of emergency services, hospitalization, and death.”

To be clear, there are “serious health consequences” of elder abuse that are long lasting. However, as the study underscores, “elder abuse remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national plans to prevent violence.” If we want to protect both the short-term and long-term health of seniors in Valley Center, California and throughout the country and the world, we need to do more to raise awareness about elder abuse prevention methods.

June 15 has been designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and it is as good a time as any to learn more about signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse in order to ensure that the seniors in your life remain happy and health in old age.

Contact a Valley Center Elder Abuse Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about elder abuse in Southern California, an experienced Valley Center nursing home abuse attorney can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more.

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(image courtesy of Ian Schneider)