Elder Maltreatment (EM)
Dental professionals are seeing more elderly patients in their clinical practice since our population is aging due to the baby boomer generation turning 65 years old or more. The CDC defines an “older adult” as “someone age 60 or older.25 “Many older adults require care and are vulnerable to violence perpetrated by a caregiver or by someone they trust.23 Clinically, we are seeing a national decline in edentualism, and the geriatric patient’s focus is switching to prevention of oral diseases as opposed to treatment after a problem occurs, meaning they come into the dental office more often than previous generations. This increases the likelihood that we will be seeing Elder Maltreatment/Abuse (EM) more often than in the past.
A uniform definition of EM does not exist, as states take varying approaches to define it in law. Generally, however, it is a knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or serious risk of harm to an older adult or vulnerable adult. This includes physical and emotional abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Usually the perpetrator is in a position of trust to the victim, but not necessarily in all circumstances.26