Elder Abuse Abuse can affect anyone of any age but one of the groups that are most affected but notalways thought of as abused is the elderly. We as nurses must learn the signs of abuse and bewilling to report it. Missouris Statute (2011) on mandated reporting states that any person “…with [the]responsibility for the care of a vulnerable person… [and] has reasonable cause to suspect thatsuch a person has been subjected to abuse or neglect or observes such a person being subjectedto conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, he or she shallimmediately report or cause a report to be made to the department…”. What this boils down to isthat if you are in a position as a caregiver of a person you suspect is being abused you required toreport it. There is a long list of professionals that are mandated to report any signs of abuse. InMissouri’s Revised statute (2011) is a small list of some of these individuals “…any physician,physician assistant, dentist, chiropractor, optometrist, podiatrist, intern, resident, nurse, nursepractitioner, medical examiner, social worker, licensed professional counselor, certifiedsubstance abuse counselor, psychologist, physical therapist, pharmacist, other health practitioner,minister, Christian Science practitioner, facility administrator, nurses aide or orderly in aresidential facility, day program or specialized service operated, funded or licensed by thedepartment or in a mental health facility or mental health program”. Missouri’s statute (2011) when a health care professional fails to make a report theybecome “…guilty of a class A misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine up to one thousanddollars. Penalties collected for violations of this section shall be transferred to the state schoolmoneys fund and distributed to the public schools of this state”. While any person who files a
Elder Abusefalse abuse or neglect report on someone knowing that it is false will also be guilty of a class Amisdemeanor and will be as liable as someone who did not report any abuse. Abuse can be broken down into certain categories: physical, emotional, sexual andfinancial. Another form is neglect. Physical abuse is “…non-accidental use of force against anelderly person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment. Such abuse includes not onlyphysical assaults such as hitting or shoving but the inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, orconfinement” (Benedictis, 2012). Emotional abuse would include intimidation through yelling,threats, humiliation and habitual blaming. A nonverbal form is ignoring and isolation. Financialabuse would be “…unauthorized use of an elderly person’s funds or property” (Benedictis,2012). This would be misuse an elder’s personal checks, credit cards, or accounts, cash, incomechecks, or household goods. Forging the elder’s signature or participating in identity theft is aform of financial abuse (Benedictis, 2012). There are certain signs a person should look for that could indicate of elderly abuse. Oneof the first signals of elder abuse are that they may show symptoms of dementia such as rocking,sucking, or mumbling, mental deterioration, or frailty. Something that you should see assuspicious is a caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the elder alone. If you witness the caregiverthreatens, belittles, or exhibits controlling behavior such as answering questions directed at theelder (Benedictis, 2012). The most obvious signs are unexplained marks of injury such asbruises, welts, or scars, broken bones, sprains, or dislocations. Another form of abuse is signs ofrestraints either physical such as rope marks on wrists or chemical such as drug overdose. Withmedications another form of abuse is withholding medications and you could see this with aprescription that has more remaining than it should. If the elder has broken eyeglasses or frames
Elder Abusecan be a sign of abuse. Their cloths are torn, stained, or bloody (Benedictis, 2012). These are allsigns of abuse. Another form of abuse is neglect. Some signs and symptoms of neglect by caregivers areunusual weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration. Neglect can be untreated physical issuessuch as bed sores. The elder can be dirty or clothing is soiled or unsuitable for the climate. Theelderly patient may not have any heat, electric, or running water. The last form of abuse isleaving an elder in a public place and not coming back for them (Benedictis, 2012). As a nurse the first thing I would do in the case of elder abuse is try to get the patientalone and away from the one I suspected of abuse to question them about it. If they denied anyabuse was occurring or didn’t want you to tell anyone you can give them information to contacthelp when the victim is ready. I would be getting the social worker involved in the situation atthe very beginning. Lastly but most importantly we need to hotline the elder and caregiver to theappropriate authorities. Our role as nurses is to be mandated reporter in the cases of elder abuse. In this paperMissouris Statute was discussed. Abuse was defined and described. We as nurses must learn thesigns of abuse and be willing to report it.
Elder Abuse ReferencesBenedictis, Ph.D., Tina de, Robinson, Lawrence, and Segal Ph.D., Jeanne. (2012). Elder Abuse and Neglect. Retrieved from http://helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htmMissouri General Assembly. (2011). Chapter 565: Offenses Against the Person. Missouri Revised Statutes. Section 565.218. Retrieved from http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C500-599/5650000218.HTM