Most definitions of elder abuse tend to focus on interpersonal relationships. But when you ask older people what they consider abuse, they often mention feeling abused or neglected by institutions or by the way health systems are organised. This is the main conclusion of a large qualitative study in The Netherlands, based on various focus groups and interviews. The study was published in an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in June 2015, entitled ‘Listening to the voices of abused older people: should we classify system abuse?’ by Yuliya Mysyuk, Rudi Westendorp, Simon Biggs and Jolanda Lindenberg. View the full article here (subscribers only).
On Friday 24 July, the article was featured in the BMJ’s podcast series Talk Medicine. Authors Jolanda Lindenberg PhD (scientific staff Leyden Academy) and Professor Rudi Westendorp (University of Copenhagen) discussed the factors that have contributed to system abuse. Westendorp: “Progress in medicine, for instance digitalisation, often has a downside for frail older people.” The authors have a clear recommendation: involve older people in developing policies and redesigning institutions, to help prevent system abuse. Lindenberg emphasizes that it’s not just about listening, but really taking seriously what older people bring to the table: “Start off with open questions, involve older individuals early on in the process instead of asking them to reflect on what’s already there.”
You can listen to the BMJ podcast here.