Topic: Violence and abuse

Violence against elderly women

Sandmoe, A. (2014). Vold mot eldre kvinner [Violence against elderly women] Norwegian only. In K. Narud (Red.) Vold mot kvinner (pp. 117-134). Cappelen Damm Akademisk.

Violence can be physical, sexual and psychological as well as economic/material or in the form of neglect. Women can be subjected to intimate partner violence that continues into old age, or violence can begin after a new relationship is established.

For others, the violence can surface once the person becomes frail and dependent on others for their daily functioning.

The perpetrator of violence can be an intimate partner, an adult child, other family members, an acquaintance or someone the elderly women trusts. This chapter focuses on how healthcare services can disclose cases where violence is suspected and how these cases should be approached.

It also describes how healthcare professionals can collaborate with other assistance services in providing the victim help. Provided is also a thorough description of what is expected of healthcare professionals in detecting symptoms and signs of abuse and a model on how suspected abuse should be investigated and evaluated.

The model described has three parts that describes the important elements and critical factors needed for evaluating abuse in elderly women that is informative to both the person providing the assistance and assistance services in general.

Women of all ages and social status can be subjected to abuse. Some women are more vulnerable to abuse than others, some due to problematic familial factors, some have failing health or they have another family member who has failing health. Gown-up children with alcohol- or other substance abuse problems can be violent towards their mothers, where this violence can often be financially motivated.

Elderly women can also be subjected to abuse at nursing homes by their caretakers, or be subjected to abuse by family members or others. No matter where the violence takes place, any form of violence is a threat to an individual’s health and quality of life. This not only holds true for physical and sexual violence, but is also true for psychological and material violence.

Out of the explanatory models on “elder violence” the ecological or holistic model is often emphasized. This model illustrates the complexity of this issue and how the many different factors work at different levels that can determine whether or not an elderly person is subjected to abuse. The assistance offered to the victim and the perpetrator of abuse depends on which type of abuse has occurred and the individual needs of those involved.

The Crisis Shelters and Protective Services for the Elderly are often central in providing assistance when this type of abuse occurs. In closing this chapter highlights that elder abuse is a subject that is under communicated in Norway, the need for more research-based knowledge on this subject, more awareness on a national and local government level in order to prevent elder abuse.