Elder Abuse and Mistreatment : A Critical Feminist Perspective to the Culture and Politics of Aging
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In recent years, policy makers and advocates have generated new ways to address elder abuse-the physical, mental, sexual abuse of a vulnerable older adult as well as financial exploitation and neglect. New collaborative efforts have revealed that investigative agencies see just the tip of the iceberg of what is really occurring, with most cases going unreported. Given the longer life expectancies in the US than previous generations, as well as the onslaught of Baby Boomers reaching the age of 65-traditionally considered the time when one is considered a "senior"-figuring out what causes elder abuse, how to prevent it, and how to ensure that it is investigated and addressed is vital to the safety and well-being of more people than ever. Inspired by the experiences from an internship at a local government agency serving older adults in my community, I study the social causes of elder abuse. "Specifically, I use critical feminist gerontology to better understand why abuse occurs and, with this, discuss new prevention techniques that advocates and agencies might consider. This study takes a particularly close look at how aging is regarded in US society through politics, among families, in businesses, and in medicine, which all contribute to the vulnerability of older adults in this community. Behind elder abuse, I find, there are a number of attitudes and prejudices surrounding aging that are not currently being addressed in elder abuse prevention efforts that could yield a number of new solutions.