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Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. This type of violence constitutes a violation of human rights and includes physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect. Elder abuse can have serious physical and mental health, financial, and social consequences, including, for instance, physical injuries, premature mortality, depression, cognitive decline, financial devastation and placement in nursing homes. For older people, the consequences of abuse can be especially serious and recovery may take longer. Many strategies have been tried to prevent and respond to elder abuse, but evidence for the effectiveness of most of these interventions is limited at present. Strategies considered most promising include caregiver interventions, which provide services to relieve the burden of caregiving; money management programmes for older adults vulnerable to financial exploitation; helplines and emergency shelters; and multi-disciplinary teams, as the responses required often cut across many systems, including criminal justice, health care, mental health care, adults protective services and long-term care.

The legal issues of older adults are often more critical than those faced by other segments of the population. Such issues may include income security, housing, utilities, protective services, abuse, neglect and age discrimination. It is important for older adults to understand their rights and seek advice when necessary. Upholding and protecting the rights of older adults is vital to addressing problems related to ageing and ageism. With the rapid growth of population of older people globally, there has been international efforts to focus on issues associated with ageing and protection of the elderly in the past decade. As a result, ageism is recognized and studied as a global issue, an example of which is a survey of tens of thousands of people in more than 50 countries that revealed the majority of the participants as having moderate to high ageist attitudes. Identifying and combating the widespread prevalence of ageism is essential to promoting population health based on the growing evidence of harmful impacts of ageism on the health of older people. The Adult Protective Services provide services for older individuals who have been abused, neglected or exploited. Recently, there has been efforts to research and address elder abuse issues through passage of laws such as Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017.

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