Added value of elder abuse definitions: a review

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Added value of elder abuse definitions: a review

Type: Article / letter to the editor
Title: Added value of elder abuse definitions: a review
Author: Mysyuka, Yuliya; Westendorp, Rudi G.J.; Lindenberg, Jolanda
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2012
Keywords: Elder abuse
Abstract: Elder abuse has devastating consequences for older persons such as a poor quality of life, psychological distress, and loss of property and security. It is also associated with increased mortality and morbidity. Elder abuse is a problem that manifests itself in both rich and poor countries and at all levels of society. It is timely to discuss one of the basic problems that has hampered the study, detection and intervention of elder abuse as the variety of definitions that exist now produce a definitional chaos for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. In this article we trace the elements of “how to define elder abuse” and situate them in their socio-historical context. We also analyze the purposes of these different definitions to assess their appropriateness in different settings concerned with elder abuse. Our analysis shows that elder abuse mirrors the societal arrangements which gave rise to them. It also highlights that it is a complex problem that is difficult to define. The central question is whether we need a common definition of elder abuse or different definitions that can be used in different settings. By evidence of our analysis we can see that there is a need for a sufficiently broad and flexible definition in order to cover different behaviors that can constitute abuse and the various settings in which it may occur. On the other hand, the definition needs to be specific and concrete to be useful in professional contexts. To take a further step forward for both research and practice of elder abuse, we propose to consistently adhere to the WHO definition that leads the enquirer towards a better understanding of the problem and helps to distinguish it from other phenomena; and to a simplified definition for professional practice that sets boundaries to the phenomena and is appropriate for effective prevention and intervention measures
Series/Report no.: Ageing Research Reviews;12 (2013) 50– 57

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