Extent of the Issue/Problem

Elder justice are actions taken by the public that promotes awareness and protection from elder abuse. Elder justice allows for the older adult population to obtain the resources they need to live healthy lifestyles. Elder justice strives to reach this goal by protecting elder abuse, fighting for their justice and advocating for the older adult populations rights. Elder abuse are intentional actions that harm and bring risk to the older adult population. Elder abuse can come in many different forms of abuse; physical, emotional, verbal, psychological, and sexual, as well as neglect and financial exploitation.

As the baby boomer generation continues to grow older, the population of the older population will continue to increase. The increase in the older population is due to the advancement in technology that allows for a healthier and longer lifespan.

Although society changing at a rapid pace does contain a lot of benefits, it also leaves the older community as an easy prey against elder abuse, especially financial exploitation.

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Technology is not the only reason why abuse occurs to older adults, abuse comes in several forms, however, the biggest issue is the lack of awareness there is for this subject and the lack of funding that goes towards elder justice. Elder abuse is not the first form of abuse that society thinks about. This leads to a lack of awareness about the topic and to more older adults suffering without any help. Research shows that one out of ten Americans 60+ years old will be inflicted with elder abuse (Elder Abuse Statistics & Facts).

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Not only is a large portion of their community being abused, approximately only 1 out of 23 cases will be reported (White House Conference on Aging, pg. 80). All older adults are susceptible to elder abuse, however, those with disabilities, low-income, or isolated have a higher chance of being affected. As a society we value the younger generations more, but older adults need our attention just as much, finding research on how to combat these types of abuse are key to ending the cycle.

Impacts of General Elder Population

Elder abuse can prevent healthy aging from occurring. The older adult community is going through a phase in their lives where they need to adjust to new roles or lack of roles. When abuse occurs it can become a stressor that changes the outlook of the end of their lives. The damage from elder abuse can cause a shortened life expectancy, depression, or other unwanted stressors. Elder abuse can affect everyone, but if they have any existing disabilities, financial struggles, and are of Latino, African American descent, or part of the LBGTQ+ community, there is a higher chance for them to be susceptible to abuse. Abuse can leave the victim feeling isolated from the world and no longer enjoying life or being apart of there families. Older adults can face financial exploitation which is a form of abuse. Most individuals do not believe this is a form of abuse because of the lack of knowledge in this area, but it is and affects so many. Many older adults can get scammed because of how fast technology is changing and they are unable to keep up, or they simply do not understand what they are being asked or becoming involved with. Older adults become victims to exploitation because they are no longer connected with society and society is choosing to no longer be connected with them.

Impacts of Diverse Elder Population

There are approximately two million LGBTQ+ members within the older population. Historically, the LGBTQ+ has not been treated fairly within society and are generally outcasted, especially with the older adult population. A few of the biggest needs within the elder population is housing and caregivers. Those who are openly part of the LGBTQ+ community are discriminated against, making their aging process extremely difficult. Not only do the older adult communities have to handle the aging process with new roles and purposes, this discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community can lead them to having even more feelings of isolation and discrimination. This means a large portion of the older adult population has been mistreated because of their sexual orientation.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 prevented same-sex couples from receiving any government marriage benefits, making it difficult for those older adults to receive the proper help (Kimmel, p.7). Without having Social Security, this then makes the retirement process harder than it needs to be. Older adults will not have an income that they can depend on or receive any type of benefits a heterosexual older adult may receive. In 2005, during the White House Conference of Aging (WHCOA), the LGBTQ+ community only had one representative. In 2015 there are now at least four openly LGBTQ+ older adult representatives (Sutton, 2015). Although that may not seem like a lot of representatives, it is slowly increasing to the point where the LGBTQ+ community’s voices are starting to be heard. LGBTQ+ rights as a whole are starting to increase and with that, it will make the aging process for them easier. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, however, the LBGTQ+ in the older adult community is heading towards a positive direction.

Policies

Elder abuse is an ongoing issue that has needed to be addressed for years. Because this issue has come to light, in 2010, the Elder Justice Act was created. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Elder Justice Act allows for the government to better assist the older adult population that is struggling with abuse. Through the act, the Elder Justice Coordination Council was formed. This council is under the federal government, meaning its job is to meet twice a year and to improve upon the current system and create solutions regarding elder abuse. Several proposals have been made to respond to elder abuse, in 2014, the council created 8 recommendations. The recommendations were: providing training to federal, state, and local investigators on how to handle elder abuse; develop a national adult protective services system (APS); prevention and intervention methods; general awareness and understanding of elder abuse; encourage training among shareholders, and identify financial exploitation. (White House Conference on Aging, pg. 83). In 2016, the President’s Budget included $25 million in new funding to help improve how the federal government handles elder justice as well as improve upon the APS system.

Political History

Elder abuse has not been heavily discussed through history. Awareness of elder abuse started to gain some traction in the 1970s when the Title XX of the Social Security Act passed. This act provided protective services for those 18 years or older who were dealing with any form of abuse (Falk). The Adult Protective Services was inspired through this act and developed through the Social Service Block Grants. Although this was a good step in the right direction, the block grants were not an effective way to raise funds, leaving local governments to decide whether to use their funds on children or adult programs (Falk).

Unfortunately this was not successful, but it was the first time actions were taken to increase the awareness of elder abuse. The outcome did not go as planned, but the intentions were there. Other attempts at improving the lives of the elder community include the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the Adult Protective Services (APS). The OAA was intended to create a separate funding designed for elder abuse and elder rights protection (Kohl, pg. 2). Through the OAA, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) was also created to improve the quality of care and life for the elder community (Colello, p.6). The Elder Justice Act has been created and with great hope continue to create change within our society.

Social

The social implications of elder justice can be summed up as a compilation of the current progress the federal government is making and the reaction of the public leading to a need to bring awareness about elder abuse. Awareness is being brought out through the Elder Justice Movement. This movement has been displayed the past few years since the Elder Justice Act was passed. It is only within the past decade that society has acknowledged elder abuse. The progress that has been made within recent years is the nationally funded APS center, and updates to both the National Center on Elder Abuse and the Department of Justice on how they handle elder justice cases (Blancato, pg.9). Elder justice has significantly increased and has brought a positive change towards the community.

The advocacy for elder abuse and its funding is increasing, but there is a lack of training on how to handle situations involving older adults. From a macro perspective, the country is heading towards the right direction for elder justice, but from a micro perspective, there are still several areas that are lacking. One of the biggest risk factors for elder abuse is social isolation and other societal factors, like roles (World Health Organization, pg. 9). Within nursing homes and retirement facilities, the staff needs to be better educated on how to deal with elder abuse and how to see the signs of it. Working in these types of facilities is extremely stressful, causing nurses to completely overlook any abuse, even causing family members to overlook it as well. The nation as a whole is making progress towards a positive direction with elder justice, but more attention needs to be put towards the micro aspect of the older adult population.

Economical

The lack of funding has been one of the biggest issues for elder justice. Funding continues to be low for the older adult population. In 2012, funding for elder abuse prevention saw an increase. In the same fiscal year, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) transferred 6 million dollars to the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to test new elder abuse prevention strategies and plans (Colello, p.24). In the years to follow, the ACL increasingly gained money. They gained an extra $2 million in 2013, $4 million in 2015, and $8 million in 2016 for the Elder Justice and APS activities. As of right now, the President’s budget is requesting $10 million in order to improve upon the APS data and research system as well as other Elder Justice Activities (Colello, p.24).

Our current government is making positive change for the older adult population by providing a budget that is strictly dedicated to their community. In past years, the older adult community never had a set budget that was based on their quality of life. The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age and without proper funding or research within about the older population, the US can see the different major consequences that would potentially occur. The major worry for America is that Social Security will run out because the older adult population is increasing and less younger individuals are pursuing any line of work. If the government continues to be proactive with its current efforts with APS and Elder Justice actives, they can possibly prevent any economic issues.

Global Influences

Elder abuse is not exclusive to the United States, it is a global issue. Advocacy for elder justice is still a new topic for most countries, so progress throughout the world has been limited and minimal. What the United States has to offer to the older community is a developed system reporting and treating elder abuse (World Health Organization). Other countries such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand do have a system to handle elder abuse cases, but, neither countries have an official policy from their governments. These three countries do have a national group for the older adult community. Other areas of the world such as Europe, Africa, and Latin American countries all have in place an advocacy group or organization that is for the older adult community, although most countries still do not have a formal plan or policies under their governments. In Asia, there have been no advocacy, policies, or programs designed to combat elder justice.

Elder abuse is starting to draw attention in Asia, but they are still far from a solution or program to deal with it (World Health Organization). All across the world, elder abuse is still a fresh topic that can continue to be discussed on a global scale. The United States is leading the advocacy for the older adult population, while also taking into consideration cultural lessons that can be learned to better assist all of our clients. The United States has consisted of multiple different races, that being said, cultural appropriate training is necessary. In a micro aspect, those who are working with the older adult population need to learn about all of the diverse backgrounds in the world in order to prevent or reduce elder abuse. Training for the workers should include medical, social, and cultural complexities that can arise with elders because of possible disabilities that come with old age (Dong, p.40).

Reflection

Through writing this paper, I became more aware of all elder abuse entails and how serious it really is. I never really thought about this topic until I started this class. I reflect a lot on how people can perceive different acts that occur to the elderly. I hope and pray that no elder person goes through this, but I know that is not the case. The harsh reality, is that older adults are abused but it is so easy to be hidden. Because of different health reasons, it is easy to not always believe an older adult right away, but we should always listen to them and put the pieces together. After taking this course, I now have the tools and what it takes to catch these acts and fight for their justice. Just because this population is older, does not mean we must throw out any instance of abuse.

Abuse is extremely harmful and age does not hold us back from fighting for their rights. Older adults play key roles in our lives, no matter what is going on with their health. Older adults share their wisdom and stories that we can only begin to imagine. We should appreciate them more than we do. We do not value older adults and it is disheartening. Without older adults, the younger generations would not be here. Their safety is extremely important in any given situation. I see my grandparents and how they are aging, I value their lives so much, I cannot imagine life without them. I know one day they will be gone, but for now, I want to live every moment with them. I want to protect every part of them, whether that is health, money, or any other form of abuse that can occur. As a society, we need to become more sympathetic with this population. Their lives are just as important as a younger, child’s life. We must value that idea more.

References

  1. Blancato, R. B. (2012). Elder Abuse and the Elder Justice Movement. Generations, 36(3), 9-11.
  2. Colello, Kristen J. (2017). The Elder Justice Act: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service
  3. Dong, X. (2012). Culture Diversity and Elder Abuse: Implications for Research, Education, and Policy. Generations, 36(3), 40-42.
  4. Elder Abuse Statistics & Facts | Elder Justice. (2017, August 08). Retrieved November 02, 2017, from https://www.ncoa.org/public-policy-action/elder-justice/elder-abuse-facts/
  5. Falk, N. L., Baigis, J., & Kopac, C. (2012). Elder Mistreatment and the Elder Justice Act. Online Journal Of Issues In Nursing, 17(3), 1. doi:10.3912/OJIN.Vol17No03PPT01
  6. Kimmel, D. (2014). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Aging Concerns. Clinical Gerontologist, 37(1), 49-63. doi:10.1080/07317115.2014.847310
  7. Kohl, H., Sanders, B., & Blumenthal, R. (2012). Elder Abuse: What is the Federal Role?. Generations, 36(3), 106-110.
  8. Sutton, K. (2015, July 15). LGBT voices are included in the movement for elder justice. Retrieved November 02, 2017, from https://www.glaad.org/blog/lgbt-voices-are- included-movement-elder-justice
  9. White House Conference on Aging (2015)
  10. World Health Organization. (N.D). Abuse of The Elderly., from http://www.who.int/ violence_injury_prevention/violence/global_campaign/en/chap5.pdf

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Extent of the Issue/Problem. (2022, May 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/extent-of-the-issue-problem-essay

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