Elder Neglect: A Growing Public Health Issue
Elder neglect is a major public health concern that has been receiving increased attention in recent years. Elder neglect is defined as the failure to fulfill a caregiver’s responsibilities, such as providing physical, emotional, and social care. It is estimated that between 1 and 2 million older Americans experience some form of elder neglect each year (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2019). Elder neglect can take many forms, ranging from physical neglect, such as not providing food, clothing, or shelter, to psychological neglect, such as not providing companionship or emotional support.
Elder neglect can have serious consequences for the physical and mental health of older adults. Studies have found that older adults who experience elder neglect are at an increased risk of physical harm, including falls, malnutrition, and dehydration (National Center on Elder Abuse, 2018). Elder neglect can also lead to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2019). In addition, elder neglect can lead to an increased risk of premature death (Sullivan et al., 2020).
Elder neglect is an often overlooked issue that can have serious health consequences for older adults. In order to address this issue, it is important to identify and target risk factors that are associated with elder neglect. Risk factors for elder neglect include having a cognitive impairment, living alone, and having a caregiver with a mental illness (National Center on Elder Abuse, 2018). In addition, research suggests that living in a nursing home or other long-term care facility increases the risk of elder neglect (Sullivan et al., 2020).
Efforts to reduce elder neglect must take into account the unique needs of older adults. Interventions that target both caregivers and older adults have been found to be effective in reducing the risk of elder neglect (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2019). These interventions can include educational programs for caregivers, improved access to home- and community-based services, and increased monitoring of long-term care facilities.
In conclusion, elder neglect is a major public health concern that can have serious consequences for older adults. It is important to identify and address risk factors associated with elder neglect in order to reduce its prevalence. Interventions that target both caregivers and older adults should be implemented in order to reduce the risk of elder neglect.
National Center on Elder Abuse. (2018). Risk factors for elder abuse and neglect. Retrieved from https://ncea.acl.gov/whatwedo/research/risk-factors.html
Sullivan, C., Wodarski, J., & Zgoba, K. (2020). Elder abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities. In B. B. Finkelman & J. L. Moody (Eds.), Legal and ethical issues in nursing (7th ed., pp. 308-314). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2019). Elder neglect: Recognition and prevention. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/eldercare/preventing-abuse/neglect/index.html