Think that abuse of the elderly won’t happen if assisted suicide or euthanasia are legalized? Think again.  Even with laws that prohibit doctor assisted death in most countries of the world, abuse of the elderly is a significant problem

The study titled Elder Abuse: Systematic Review and Implications for Practice was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2015. Science Daily publishes the study here.  It reveals that globally, elder abuse is epidemic and is most common among community dwelling elderly and those with cognitive and physical impairments or psychosocial distress.

Elder abuse, which includes psychological, physical, and sexual abuse; neglect; and financial exploitation is highest in some European countries like Croatia (61%) and China (36%) and lowest in Ireland (2%) and India (14%). In North and South American the epidemiological studies revealed that the prevalence of elder abuse ranged from about 10% among cognitively intact older adults to 47% in older adults with dementia.

Lead author of the study, Dr. XinQi Dong says, “The epidemics of elder abuse and our societal inability to sufficiently protect the most vulnerable population are only compounded by their increased risks for premature death, psychosocial distress, use of emergency departments, hospitalization, and nursing home placement.”

In Canada we will soon add to this list the subtle pressure on elderly patients to end their lives due to the burden they place on others.

photo credit: Romanian Old Man via photopin (license)