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An Overlap between Domestic Elderly Abuse and Domestic Abuse


Laurence Obie Davidson
Purdue University Calumet

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Abstract
This paper will cover elderly abuse and its connection with domestic violence. It will
argue that elderly abuse is the unfortunate result of the poor screening process used by employers
of nursing homes. Some people may argue that elderly abuse occurs because a caregiver may
become overcome overstressed. Others may argue that elderly abuse is just a media scare and
does not actually occur as much as we would like to think it does. Research shows that elderly
abuse is in fact a problem in America and that it can be directly linked to domestic violence and
domestic abuse. Anyone who has had a history of involvement with domestic abuse cases has a
higher risk of exerting domestic abuse characteristics later in life. If nursing homes conducted a
more thorough background check and incorporated therapy of some sort the number of elderly
abuse cases would decrease.
In todays society, elderly people are put into nursing homes for many reasons. But there
is a problem that arises once these people are put into nursing homes. This problem lies in the
satisfaction of how well the nurses take care of our loved ones. Most people who place their
friends and family into nursing homes usually do so with the intentions of providing a secure and
well-supervised home. But when that elderly person reports abuse of some sort who can we
blame? Some people might blame the person who put that elderly person into the care of a
complete stranger, while others might blame the caregiver for being negligent or overly
aggressive.
The claims that elderly abuse is a media scare and that the problem is not as frequently
occurring as people may lead you to believe are false. Elderly abuse specifically in nursing
homes has undoubtedly been gaining more attention for its increasingly common occurrences
and problems in America. Studies estimate that one in every ten seniors-citizens in America
report having encountered physical abuse, psychological abuse, and/or neglect regularly within
daily clinical practices.(the lancet) this is clearly a problem that needs to be, and can easily be
addressed before your friends, family, or loved ones are the next victims of abuse.
Who is to blame? Is it the nurses and caregivers, or the people that hire them? Domestic
elderly abuse by caregivers can be classified either by the intentional acts domestic abuse done
against a vulnerable elderly patient, or the neglect and/or failures to satisfy any previously agreed
upon expectations or standards of living of an elder by a caregiver. (the lancet) Many
professionals believe caregiver stress is the primary cause of domestic elderly abuse (Brandle,
2000), despite the fact that numerous studies show that there is a direct connection between
domestic abuse and domestic abusers (Brandle, 2002). Caregiver stress is just a reason as to why
some caregiver abusers might happen to mistreat their patient is because of caregiver stress.

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Since caregiving is a low salary job that takes time from the caregivers time and resources,
caregivers become impatient and have a tendency to snap on patients. A reason that helps explain
why caregivers do not seek professional help, such as therapy, when or before they mistreat their
patients could be the fear of losing their job. There is also the disregard of mental health
professionals. Professionals too often assume that the caregiver experience more stress than the
patient. This causes mental health professionals to not work with mental health agencies that
specialize in aging (Vinton, 2003). If nursing homes would implement a very thorough initial
background check upon hiring staff, coupled with the occasional screening during employment,
searching for any involvement in domestic violence cases.
But is it all completely the caregivers fault? As mentioned earlier, there are numerous
studies that show the screening process that caregivers undergo is not as effective as it should be.
People with a higher probability of becoming domestic abusers tend to be the ones that easily
slip through the cracks of these background checks. Domestic abuse is like a monster that
influences anyone it comes in contact with. Most people, who have had any previous history
with domestic violence, whether playing the role of the victim or the aggressor, are proven to be
at a much higher risks to inherit domestic abuse patterns later in life (Kahan and Paris, 2003).
Most of these elderly abuse cases are an extended result of domestic violences seemingly
contagious patterns. Domestic abuse is defined by law to be any act of violence towards a person
who is or used to be an intimate partner or family member (Brandl, 2002) and there are five
different categories of domestic abuse. There is sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological
abuse, emotional abuse, and economical abuse (Smith, 2011). This means that anyone who was a
victim of one of these forms of domestic abuse at any point in their life, statistically speaking,
have a higher chance of exerting any one of these forms of domestic abuse later in life. This also
means that anyone who has been involved in any domestic abuse cases, as the abuser, will have
an extremely higher probability of exerting those same domestic violence characteristics. So if a
women has been a victim of a physical domestic abuse case in the past, she is more likely to
exert the characteristics of a domestic abuse aggressor later on in life. The same goes for a
woman who has been the abuser in a physically domestic abuse case.
A possible solution that would greatly decrease the number of these elderly abuse cases
would be for nursing homes to conduct a very thorough background check on their nurses for
any previous domestic violence history. Since studies show that a pattern of domestic violence
characteristics can develop in many domestic abuse case victims and aggressors, a thorough
background check and maybe even some therapy can reduce the chances of that pattern emerging
in the staff of a nursing home. This may be one step in preventing elderly abuse within nursing
homes. After screening the qualified caregivers they should then be annually given a lecture on
the determinants of quality care, acceptable work behavior, and the dynamics of caregiver-elder
relationships (Taket et al, 2002).
The connection between domestic violence and domestic abuse patterns can overall be
greatly reduced if there was a better support system for both men and women who are/were
victims of domestic abuse. This would require better advertisement for both male and female
support groups and rehabilitation centers. It would also require more help to look at both male
and female victims of domestic abuse. This help and support is not only needed from things like
couples therapy, and support groups, but is also needed from members of society and law
enforcement. Very thorough background checks conducted to search for any involvement in or

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previous encounters with domestic violence cases, this combined with things like provided
annual therapy sessions for employees can cause a vast decrease in the probability of elderly
abuse and can help in the prevention of acquired domestic abuse patterns from forming.
These solutions are very feasible strategies to reduce chances of elderly abuse within
nursing homes and/or clinics. They can also help in the prevention of ongoing destructive and
abusive behaviors that are exerted by those who have any previous involvement in a domestic
violence case and/or domestic abuse in America.
The connection between domestic violence and domestic abuse patterns can overall be
greatly reduced if there was a better support system for both men and women who are victims of
domestic abuse. This would require better advertisement for both male and female support
groups for rehabilitation centers. It would also require more help to look at both male and female
victims of domestic abuse. This help and support is not only needed from couples therapy, it is
also needed from members of society and law enforcement. When properly addressed these
victims are less likely to exert the abuse patterns mentioned earlier.

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Reference (phase one)


Brandl, B. (2002). Power and Control: Understanding Domestic Abuse in Later life.
Generations, XXIV(2), 39-45.
Enander, V. (2011). Violent Women? The Challenge of Women's Violence in Intimate
Heterosexual Relationships to Feminist Analyses of Partner Violence..NORA:
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Lancet,337(8750), 1155-1156.
Johnson, M., & Ferraro, K. (2004). Research on Domestic Violence in the 1990s: Making
Distinctions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 948963.
Kahan, F., & Paris, B. B. (2003). The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, New York. Why
female abuse continues to elude the health care system., 70(6), 62-68.
McLeod, M. (1984). Women Against Men: An Examination Of Domestic Violence Based
On An Analysis Of Official Data And National Victimization Data. Justice
Quarterly, 1(2), 171-193.

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Smith, M. (2011). Domestic Violence: An Overview. University of Nevada Cooperaive
Extension, 11-76, 4.

References
Chez, R. (1999). Elder abuse, the continuum of family violence. Primary Care Update
for OB/GYNS, 6(4), 132-134.
Kahan, F., & Paris, B. B. (2003). The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, New York. Why
female abuse continues to elude the health care system., 70(6), 62-68.
Taket, A., Wathen, C. N., & MacMillan, H. (2004). Should Health Professionals Screen All
Women For Domestic Violence?. PLoS Medicine, 1(1), e4.
Vinton, L. (2003). A Model Collaborative Project Toward Making Domestic Violence Centers
Elder Ready. Violence Against Women, 9(12), 1504-1513.
Thelancet. (2004). How Would You Like To Be Treated When You Are 75?. The
Lancet, 364(9441), 1192-1192.

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