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Sexual Abuse of Older Adults: Appropriate Responses for Health and Human Services Providers

Author: JODI TEITELMAN
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 29 No. 2

Helpful and appropriate responses by health and human
services providers to cases of suspected elder sexual abuse are
often challenged by lack of awareness of how best to proceed. The
purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction to the concept,
scope and dynamics of elder sexual abuse and to offer suggestions
for appropriate responses that are applicable across a wide range of
health and social services. Definitions, demographic aspects and
proposed causes of elder sexual abuse are discussed. Risk profiles
for both community-dwelling older adults and those living in
facilities are presented as a guide for professionals, followed by a
discussion of physical and psychological signs of sexual abuse, and
approaches for determining a client’s capacity to consent to sexual
activity Finally, recommendations for appropriate responses once it
is determined that abuse is likely to have occurred, including
meeting obligations as a mandated reporter and providing effective
communication and support to victims, are provided.

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