Elderly Abuse in America


The Topic:

According to Soreson (2012), elderly abuseexists because the victims are afraid or ashamed of reporting it tothe authorities. The most common perpetrators of elderly abuse arethe caregivers of the aged. The caregivers could be their childrenand grandchildren at home or staff in institutionalized elderly care.Other perpetrators the elderly abuse crimes may be their partners.Sometimes, the victims of elderly abuse fear to report suchincidences because the offenders are their caregivers and familymembers. They fear that notifying the authorities could disintegratetheir family. They also fail to report abuse from their familycaregivers for the fear of being institutionalized. Their silencegives the abusers the power to keep committing the atrocities andconsequently, the elderly abuse persists.

The types of elderly abuse range from physical,emotional, sexual, neglect and verbal. Other forms of abuse mayinclude financial exploitation, and mistreatment. According toSoreson (2012), the extent of adult abuse in the USA is worrying andthe situation is bound to get worse in the future. 25% of thedependent elderly people reported psychological abuse (Soeson, 2012).Another 1% of elderly people falling under the same category reportedphysical abuse. The Political Economic theory best explains thereason behind elderly abuse (Rosalie, 2012). According to the theory,most elderly people do not have another source of income apart fromtheir meager pension. They have to rely on the state or theirrelatives for their well-being. Being the capitalist society we are,poverty takes away their importance in community life, thereforemaking them vulnerable to abuse from those they depend on.

Sociological Analysis of Elderly Abuse

Sociological Imagination is the type ofthinking whereby one thinks himself away from the routine way of life(Eitzen et al, 2012). Simply put, sociological imagination is wishfulthinking of what a perfect society should be. On the other hand,Sociological Perspective is the way people look at societal problems.It seeks to find the relationship between how people behave and thestructures of the society. The major similarity between the twoconcepts is that they seek to understand the source of socialproblems.

It is important to use the sociologicalperspective to analyze the issue of elderly abuse in order tounderstand why it happens. The reason why caregivers abuse theelderly is a complex issue. It is common knowledge that people shouldbe kind to the elderly, however, these abusers blatantly contravenethe expectations of society. The abusers take advantage of the factthat the chances of the elderly reporting abuse are very slim. Theyalso bask in the ignorance of these elderly people. The societystructures also contribute to elderly abuse. Many people hateinstitutionalized care due to their deplorable conditions. It is forthis reason that they do not mind staying home with abusive familymembers.

The person-blame approach blames an individualfor the social problems they experience. On the other hand, thesystem-blame approach suggests that social problems are related tothe societal conditions (Eitzen et al, 2012). Both approaches aresimilar in that they seek to find the primary cause of socialproblems.

Using the person-blame approach, the issue ofelderly abuse arises from the elderly who do not report the abuse.According to Soreson (2012), 25% of senior citizens in the USAreported abuse. However, it took the repetitive action of theirabusers to report the abuse. Only 10% of those that reported abusehad been abused for the first time. Maybe if the elderly reportedabuse the first time it happened, the social structures would haveprotected them from further abuse.

Using the System-approach to analyze elderlyabuse, the government has not set a framework to empower the elderlyhence forcing them to be dependent on members of society. Inaddition, the social structure does not encourage the elderly toreport abuse. According to Soreson (2012), 32% of the elderlyreported victimization after speaking out on elderly abuse. Thestigma came from other caregivers and family members.

Policies and Implemented

According to the USA justice department(2016), some of the Acts that protect the elderly from abuse are theElder Justice Act of 2010 and the Older Americans Act of 2011. Theformer seeks to improve institutionalized care for the elderly. Itallocates more funds to improve these centers. The Older AmericansAct aims at protecting the rights of older Americans. The Actprotects senior citizens from abuse and exploitation.

According to the department of justice inCanada (2016), there is no law that includes the specific definitionof elderly abuse. However, the government protects the elderly fromsuch acts as neglect and harm. The USA policies are better thanCanada’s because they put exact boundaries to what constituteselderly abuse.


Elderly abuse is a major problem that is oftenoverlooked. The society structures are the root cause of the socialproblem because they are designed in ways that make the elderlyvulnerable. The system approach provides the best explanation for thesocial problem. Victimization of victims of elderly abuse preventsthem from reporting it. Through this analysis, I learned that elderlyabuse is a result of many factors. No single factor is responsiblefor elderly abuse.


Department of Justice, (2016). CurrentFederal Elder Justice Laws.Retrieved from&lthttp://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Library/Policy/Law/Federal/index.aspx&gt

Department Justice Canada (2016). LegalDefinitions of Elderly abuse and Neglect.Retrieved from &lthttp://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/elder-aines/def/p3.html&gt

Eitzen, D. S., Zinn, M. B., Smith, K. E.,(2012) Social Problems,2ndEd. Indian River State College. &nbspUpperSaddle River, New Jersey

Rosalie, F., (2012). Elder Mistreatment: Abuse,Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America. NationalAcademy of Sciences.

Sorenson H.M., (2012). Elderlyabuse Identification A Public Health Issue.AARC Times