Elder Abuse: A Comprehensive Overview and Physician-Associated Challenges.
Elder abuse can present in many forms, including physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and neglect. Many studies estimate that about 10% of all people over the age of 65 experience some form of abuse. These rates are often higher in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, despite government regulations aimed toward addressing this issue. Because patients who experience abuse tend to have higher rates of hospitalization and mortality, it is important for physicians to be able to accurately identify cases of abuse. However, many studies have found that healthcare professionals are often undertrained and ill-equipped in diagnosing elder abuse. In this article, we outline tools that may be able to aid healthcare professionals in their diagnoses, such as survey-based methodology and common physical signs of abuse. In addition, we propose evidence-based solutions, including the use of multidisciplinary teams and increased training on the subject, so that healthcare professionals can more easily identify victims of abuse. Essentially, it is our hope that this article further spotlights elder abuse and its challenges, while serving as a guide to healthcare professionals.
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