Ethical Dilemmas of Reporting Suspected Elder Abuse Discussion

Ethical Dilemmas of Reporting Suspected Elder Abuse Discussion

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Elderly individuals who are 65 years old or older may become vulnerable and live at risk due to cognitive, psychosocial, and/or physical problems. This population may live alone or with family members who are not providing the quality care that is needed for the individual. Some elderly individuals might ignore the signs that he or she may need to be placed in a senior placement home, seek medical advice, lack understanding of exploitation, suffer from self-neglect, and lack the use of community resources.

Nutrition, safety, and socialization are the three significant needs that elderly individuals require. The first stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory is the physiological need. The physiological need can be explained as things that an individual simply cannot live without (Kellerman, 2014, p.540). Elderly individuals will need basic items for survival which include food, water, clothing, air, shelter, sleep, treatment of illness and injury, and medication. These needs have changed because baby boomers are living longer and need all essential items to help them to continue to live a quality life. If an elderly individual lack any of the items mention above, he or she will lack survival skills and could potentially lack cognitive, psychomotor, and dexterity processing skills.

The second stage of Maslow’s theory is the safety need. Elderly individuals who are vulnerable due to injury or illness will need to be kept safe from any and all abuse (financial, sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal). The safety need for elderly individuals has changed because these individuals begin to experience a decline in their cognitive level, a decline in their health, a desire not to live alone, a decline in his/her motor and dexterity skills, resistance to de-cluttering their homes which could lead to a fall and safety risk, a fire hazard, and medication errors. Safety needs will change in the next ten years because elderly individuals are living longer and wish to maintain their independence. Safety of an individual’s environment will need to also encourage positive mental and physical activities. An individual’s environment will need to be assessed based on each individual’s unique living arrangement. Family members and human services employees must plan ahead to assist elderly individuals to help continue to live longer in their own homes with helpful resources that are available (Bergeron, Gray, P. 96, 2003). If an elderly individual lacks the safety need, this could cause the individuals to develop trust issues and become a victim of vulnerable exploitation.

The third need is socialization. Elderly individuals become socially connected because they accept this as a part of life concerns. Individuals who suffer from health issues or lack of ability to get out often find their social opportunities limited. This will cause the elderly to spend more time alone which may result in depression and deterioration in their mental and physical health. Also, losing a love one unexpectedly may cause an individual to have withdrawal symptoms from all social activities and may become depressed. Elderly individuals need to be involved with their family, friends, and people in their community. If an individual does not have family, friends, and associates, he or she could accomplish this need by getting involved in church activities, senior outings, adult day care centers, and community activities that interest them.

Ten years ago, our society only addressed the basic needs for the elderly which included food, clothing and shelter as identified by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Moreover, safety needs of this population were at a minimum due to funding and available resources. Next, socialization was at a minimum due to a lack of adult day care facilities, senior living areas, and a lack of laws to protect the elderly from varies abuses. In addition, the availability of food sources for nutritional needs of the elderly was also at a minimum. Today, there are numerous community resources and outreach programs that will assist in providing the elderly with the physiological needs, safety needs, and socialization needs. There are plenty of resources that are available for our elderly population that will help provide them with a quality of life.

Because our population is living longer lives, that will increase the elderly population. With current improvements in health and medical care, the elderly will be able to live longer, safer, and have more productive lives in the next ten years. With technology improving every day, we can expect medical improvements, improvements in medication, and improvements in healthcare provided to the elderly.


Bergeron, L.R., & Gray, B. (2003). Ethical Dilemmas of Reporting Suspected Elder Abuse. Social Work, 48(1), 96-105. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Castaliamedia. (2008, May 25). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [Video file]. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.