Growing Old in Society-Crimes against the Elderly
Crimes against the elderly could be considered to be the age war, with youthful offenders plundering on innocent older victims. Several criminologists have tried to research the degree, impact, and nature of criminal victimization of the elderly. Studies have indicated that older persons have a tendency of being more prone to criminal attacks than the rest of the population. Fear of crime is connected with different variables, key among them being the sense of vulnerability, which in turn is closely linked with senior age (Schuller, 2006).
Fear of crime and victimization has formed a part of the discussion of the present risk society. Every person is haunted by the prospect that they could be the latest victim of a crime. However, in the course of life, people may feel vulnerable for various reasons. Some individuals may lack an opportunity to protect themselves physically or economically. Others may not be in a position of making a fast retreat. The people who mainly fall under this category are the elderly individuals. Persons at the age of 75 and above are the most vulnerable population group within the bracket of the elderly population. Studies have indicated that there is a rapid increment in severe incapacity above the age of 70 (Powell & Wahidin, 2008). Additionally, elderly individuals are more expected to be living alone and to be housebound. A typical example of these individuals could be a physically frail widow. This person may be in a socially isolated position with diminishing or limited resources. Thus, they are likely to feel vulnerable to criminal attacks (Schuller, 2006).
There has also been research on the relationship between corporate crime, senior age, and insecurity among the older persons, especially concerning the pensions given by genuine pension providers. It has been revealed that legal banking corporations take billions from the pensions of older persons. This has profoundly contributed to one of the largest scandal of the 20th century. Potential criminals know the susceptibility of most of the elderly and mainly target older individuals whose aged status is easily identifiable. This makes them be at a particular risk of fraud and confidence swindlers (Estes, Biggs, & Phillipson, 2004). The senior individuals are seen to be an easier target as they do not have the strength to investigate some of the crimes that may happen to them. They are also believed to be more trustworthy. The conmen take advantage of the trust as well as isolation of the elderly persons whose social circumstances have changed. Most of them do not live with their families or people who may protect them thus lacking people to consult. They may also fear approaching their relatives in order to avoid looking needy. Insurance companies and traders in real estate have also been known to take advantage of the feelings of insecurity of the older persons thus selling improper products at overpriced costs (Schuller, 2006).
Crimes committed against elderly people may be divided into two main categories. The first category comprises of conventional crimes such as robbery, homicide, fraud, theft, and rape. The second includes neglect and abuse. These entail any physical or psychological ill-treatment inflicted on an elderly person in their homes or in aged-people institutions.
There are physical, economic, social, and environmental factors connected with ageing which heightens the impact of victimization. Ageing may be said to be a period of decreasing physical potency and nimbleness. This implies that resistance is both less efficient and risky as compared to younger people. Even relatively minor injuries may lead to serious and permanent damage to the older people, as well as have a negative psychological impact on them.
Physical assault is one of the most prevalent crimes committed against elderly individuals. A lot of cases where elderly persons have been assaulted, especially sexually, are on the rise. This mainly happens to elderly women. Their physical condition usually differs from that of younger women, making them more prone to the assault, as they are obviously not in a position of defending themselves against their attackers. The attackers, in their turn, are in most cases young strong people. Their vulnerability to assault is also heightened by the fact that the elderly persons mostly live alone and are distant from their loved ones or persons who may protect them. Calling for help thus seems to be fruitless and their attackers mainly get away with their crimes, especially taking into account the fact that elderly persons have worsened eye vision or sense of smell which may be used in the identification of their attackers. The depressing reality is that these elderly persons also get assaulted by their own relatives. They may fail to report such cases due to the fear of further assault or being perceived as being in need of extra care or protection (Estes, Biggs, & Phillipson, 2004).
Senior persons are above all fearful of street crimes, such as robberies and handbag snatching. Actually, the impact of being the victim of these kinds of crime frightens elderly persons. They depend on small, fixed incomes from pensions or social security thus losing even a few dollars may have a tragic effect on their lives, as they may lack financial resources to cater for their basic needs. This, therefore, makes them avoid walking in secluded streets or even walking at night. They prefer staying indoors and avoid public transportation or walking which may increase the risk of being attacked (Powell & Wahidin, 2008).
Elderly persons are also vulnerable to neglecting, especially on the side of their family members. Taking care of elderly persons may be stressful to their relatives as they have to deal with additional expenses such as health care and special food. Extra responsibilities placed on the family when taking care of an elderly person may result in maltreatment. Neglect may include acts of omission such as failing to supply them with food and health care. They may also be psychologically abused which involves them being inflicted with mental anguish. This may comprise verbal abuse and intimidation, threats of being placed on an aged-care facility, humiliation, withholding of affection, and being scolded (Wang, 2006). These kinds of treatment make the elderly persons have a feeling of shame, lack of dignity, and a sense of being powerless. In some cases, aged persons are denied attention or even access to their grandchildren until they agree to sign over assets to their children (Gorfan, 2012).
Elderly persons may be economically abused by their relatives where their money, property, and other assets are improperly used. This may include misappropriation of money, coerced changing of will, and refusal in access or control of their property.
Elderly persons also face abuse in the aged-persons facilities. For most elderly persons, involuntary admission to elderly persons’ facilities may be the ultimate denial of their human rights. The degree of dependency and corresponding loss of authority may be devastating to them. They are forced to live according to the imposed routine, and loss of their freedom further affects them. They receive the feeling of being abandoned by their families. There have been reports where elderly persons have been abused by the nurses taking care of them, sometimes at a pretext of making them cooperate, for example, to take medicines (Powell & Wahidin, 2008).
In conclusion, the elderly individuals in the society are known to be more vulnerable to various types of crimes as compared to younger people. They are prone to crimes such as physical abuse, fraud, theft, sexual abuse, and neglect among others. Their deteriorating health conditions particularly make them more susceptible to being attacked by criminals. Also, some of the elderly persons live alone thus lacking people to protect them in case they are attacked at home. Others are laced in elderly people’s institutions where they are denied their freedoms and restricted to a specific routine, sometimes being abused by their nurses. The worst cases include the instances where they are abused by their relatives through being neglected or blackmailed into passing over their assets.