Child, Domestic, and Elder Abuse
Top 10 helpful questions to assess a patient for abuse
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Test Your Knowledge: Elder Abuse
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In recent weeks, the issues of child and domestic violence have received heightened attention in the media spurred by reports of several high-profile cases involving players in the NFL. However, domestic violence, child, and elder abuse, are not just problems in the NFL, they are major public health threats in the U.S and worldwide. These types of abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic class, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. Abuse and neglect not only have immediate health consequences, but links to other life-threatening and fatal conditions that affect victims throughout their lifespan.
Healthcare professionals are in a unique position to recognize abuse and initiate a process to stop the cycle. When a patient presents with an unlikely or repeated injury, is in a state of constant vigilance to prevent injury, or has difficulty with or age-inappropriate behaviors concerning sexual parts of the body, you should question the nature and source of the injury and take proactive steps to help the patient. The most common physical injuries are unexplained bruises, lacerations, abrasions, head injuries and fractures. Other common signs of abuse include:
In children, look for:
Signs of neglect in children and the elderly may be difficult to detect. The most common signs are:
When you suspect a patient is the victim of abuse, there are several actions you should take:
When there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse, follow facility policies for reporting to the proper authorities.
Access to trained professionals are available through the following hotlines to assist with emergency counseling and additional information about resources in local communities.
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When concerns arise about possible abuse in a patient, it’s important to observe and ask questions. Always interview the patient alone and in an environment that is supportive, compassionate, and safe. Here are 10 helpful questions to assess a patient for abuse.
If things are really bad, a victim will take action to leave.
Most elderly victims are victimized in or near their homes and are victims of financial crimes, neglect, and white collar offenses.
To be considered abuse, injuries must be physical.
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Often times victims of elder abuse feel trapped by factors such as: fear, isolation, financial dependence, and low self-esteem.×
It is a misconception to believe that most crimes against the elderly are violent crimes that result from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.×
Many elderly people are harmed by being stripped of their savings, forced to relinquish possessions, threatened, humiliated, intimidated or neglected by a caregiver they depend on.×