Background or Literature Review
Elder abuse is a serious problem in society. Research and statistics are revealing a reality that the problem is on the increase, indicating that there are more elders in the society today who are suffering the effects of abuse (Anderson et al., 2012). The population of the elders in the country has been growing, suggesting that there is an even greater potential for the abuse. The Census Bureau has indicated that the number of those living up to 90 years has increased three times in the past three decades. Jackson and Hafemeister (2013) indicate that the number at the time was approximately two million. The most interesting reality is the potential for continued increase in this population.
Even as the population of the elders is increasing, the support for these people is placing a huge demand for the relatives, family, or friends that are left with the burden of taking care of the senior citizens. The dismal economy, as well as stress associated with the needs of this population, is among the risk factors for the elder abuse. The reality opens up the already susceptible population to abuse (George & Ferraro, 2015). The problem is made worse by the fact that those who perpetrate the abuse are people very close to the victim. The risk is increased by other factors such as mental problems, including dementia. The number of the elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s and other psychological health problems in the country is increasing (Dong et al., 2013). Worth noting is that caring for these individuals is a challenging reality.
The scope of the issue is hard to determine due to the increase of the unreported cases, diversity in the definition of the problem, and failure to have in place a national reporting system. Regardless, no one can refute that the challenge is becoming more serious every day. Brownell (2014) suggested that at some point in their life, as many as ten elderly individuals have suffered a case of abuse. The research also revealed that any individual above the age of 65 years is at risk of suffering abuse. Race, socioeconomic status, and religion notwithstanding, everyone is at a risk. Nonetheless, those who are at greater risk are the marginalized because of the other inherent risk factors such as economic disadvantages.
The policy is critical given the criticality of the issue and the importance of preventing it. The elders have made a contribution to the society and should be accorded a respectable old age; they should be allowed the chance to enjoy their old age. In fact, the abuse goes against this fundamental need of the elders. The initial process in preventing the problem is the recognition that no one should be subject to abuse. The positive social attitude is critical, as well as concerted efforts in society to promote the need to respect and protect the needs of the elders.
Policy Proposal(s) and Recommendation(s)
Among the policy options to address the problem include education for the caregivers, increased access to respite care, support for families, treatment, and counseling for the caregivers. Still, the most effective policy action is increasing funding alongside education for the caregivers. Providing education is not enough when the other underlying issues are not addressed. Hence, the increased funding accompanied by education will be more effective as it will solve the problem from two perspectives (Dong et al., 2013). Education will create awareness on the need to protect the prerequisites of the elders. Providing financial support will help in relieving the economic burden and stress associated with financial challenges for the caregivers.
For most of the caregivers, there is usually limited opportunity to work and get the economic capability needed to take care of the personal and the needs of the elder(s) in their care (George & Ferraro, 2015). Indeed, this is made worse by the fact that caring for the needs of these individuals comes with a huge financial burden for those left to care for them. Hence, in the event that there is financial support for the caregivers and to care for the needs of the elders, there will be reduction in the issues of abuse perpetrated against this vulnerable population.
The evaluation criterion for the assessment of this policy option is carrying out a pilot study with a group of caregivers. It is possible that a majority will suggest the financial burden being the most critical factor in jeopardizing the security and well-being of the elders. Based on the criteria, a government policy should be designed and implemented that will increase funding that will be directed towards the care of the elderly (George & Ferraro, 2015). The financial cost of the proposed option is evident because it involves an increased investment in caring for the elders. However, the benefits definitely supersede the cost. Treatment of the abused elders takes up a lot of resources because most of the cases are realized when the abuse has had a serious impact on the health of the victim. Therefore, the cost saved in the health care sector can be used in increasing the funding for their care.