Treatment and Ethical Issues

A number of potential conflicts face practitioners who are handling elder abuse cases. While tangible proof may be obtainable in situations involving physical and financial abuse, psychological abuse and neglect are far more difficult to verify. Symptoms of sexual abuse may elude the investigator who is not aware that old people can be so victimized. Cultural biases and lack of full knowledge about the circumstances involved in a case may lead a worker to conclude, falsely, that abuse has occurred. The instability of the mental and physical status of the victim and/or the perpetrator and the dynamics of their relationship may add to case uncertainty. The issue of competency can be particularly troublesome. There may be resistance on the part of the victim to undergo medical assessment, or of the perpetrator to allow it, or even of the medical profession to make a decision.

An individual who under the law is mandated to report a case of suspected abuse may hesitate because the details of the situation have not been fully documented. Whether the problem is civil or criminal may be unclear. Certainly, the unwillingness of the victim to press charges has been a major hindrance to intervention efforts. Even though the law may require an investigation, the older person may not wish to cooperate or to accept the services that are offered. This negative response brings the worker face to face with a dilemma: the interest of the state, professionals, and society in protecting vulnerable persons versus the individual's right to self-determination; in terms of ethical principles, the tension between autonomy and beneficence.

Anxiety and Depression 101

Anxiety and Depression 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about. We have been discussing depression and anxiety and how different information that is out on the market only seems to target one particular cure for these two common conditions that seem to walk hand in hand.

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