. "15. Elder Abuse Intervention: Lessons from Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Initiatives." Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.
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Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America
screening methods are limited by the few studies in this area. Some measures overly focus on adult children as potential perpetrators of elder abuse or fail to recognize some of the contextual aspects of abuse, such as chronic stress resulting from long-term responsibilities of a fragile, elderly, combative individual (McDonald and Collins, 2000). Moreover, most existing measures are biased toward factors related to physical abuse and neglect, with less attention paid to factors of psychological and financial abuse or violation of the person’s rights.
Following efforts by advocates to recognize the basic humanitarian need for assistance, most intervention and prevention efforts in elder abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence began with broadly based services offered within existing social networks. As greater recognition occurred, some communities introduced additional specialized services and resources, such as changes to laws and policies, training of professionals, and establishing abuse registries and telephone hot lines. The next stage of intervention usually involves coordinated, system-integrated approaches to enhance the quality of services already available, which are in place in many North American communities for child and woman abuse, but much less so for elder abuse. Once in place, prevention programs in schools, law enforcement agencies, and similar organizations can begin to promote awareness and deterrence of elder abuse and related forms of domestic violence in the true prevention sense (Wolfe and Jaffe, 2001).
Like child abuse, elder abuse interventions have primarily arisen from either agency- or community-based initiatives. This reflects the mandate of adult protective service agencies and their procedures for responding to abuse and neglect, whereas community-based efforts attempt to integrate or coordinate services found throughout the community in other social service agencies. Typically, intervention protocols include a variety of approaches that include legal, therapeutic, educational, and advocacy complements (Reis and Nahmiash, 1995). Throughout the 1990s some progress was made in terms of initiatives for elder abuse designed for both protection efforts and community services, although no systematic evaluations have been conducted.
Existing approaches to elder abuse intervention focus primarily on three overlapping goals and strategies: (1) legislative, including statutory adult protection service programs, modeled after child abuse initiatives; (2) community services, based on integrated models that attempt to provide coordinated services spanning legal, medical, and psychosocial needs of atrisk seniors, modeled after domestic violence strategies; and (3) education and prevention, including advocacy and empowerment for seniors, derived