Dental ethics case 13: what do I do when I suspect that my elderly patient is being abused?: dental ethics
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The problem of elder abuse and neglect in South Africa is widespread. Elder abuse occurs across all economic, ethnic, religious, gender and cultural groups. In South Africa the problem was previously the sole responsibility of the Department of Welfare (Social Development) with the result that abuse was only dealt with in homes for the aged. With older persons encouraged to live in their communities and families as long as possible, it means that the responsibility for dealing with elder abuse has shifted to many more sectors. Elder abuse can be defined as “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”. Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.