Elder abuse is expected to continue to rise. A sad expectation given that seniors are among our most vulnerable citizens, often depending on the benevolence of strangers.
We’ve long been following the issue of elder abuse, a devastating indignity that attacks these vulnerable members of society on all levels: Physical, emotional, chemical, financial, and sexual. Neglect, abuse, mocking, and even workers who have abused residents as part of pranks against each other are becoming more and more commonplace. USA Today notes that, with the senior population growing and living longer, concerns for their welfare are valid.
The elderly are among our most fragile citizens and, often, we have no choice but to place our older relatives in the care of others. Sadly, families are left with limited options as reports of nursing home abuse continue to rise. Yet, despite ongoing headline-making news concerning abuse of the elderly, the abuse continues. Now, some organizations are changing how the elderly are treated. For instance, the Cedar Village Retirement Community in Ohio, just opened a long-term care facility meant for abuse victims and is the first elder abuse shelter in Ohio, said USA Today. The Community is one of just a few nationwide; all are funded by nonprofit organizations.
“There is a genuine recognition by those who are concerned by the abuse of elders that there need to be appropriate safe houses for them to get them out of immediate harm’s way,” said Sally Hurme, AARP’s senior project manager in education and outreach, wrote USA Today. “Nationally, we’ve been aware of the need for elder abuse shelters, but they’ve been slow in coming into fruition.”
The first such facility nationwide, the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx, New York, opened seven years ago and is a model for the others that have been created since, USA Today explained. And, now, elder advocates are seeking more such facilities and initiating campaigns meant to educate and help prevent elder abuse.
With those living to age 90 and older tripling in the past 30 years to about two million and with expectations that this figure will quadruple by 2050—according to the Census Bureau—elder care education has become critical. Those age 65 and older also grew, said USA Today, by 15.1 percent since 2000 to 40.3 million, which comprises 13 percent of the population. “The fastest-growing segment are people over 85 and the percentage of people with Alzheimer’s, dementia is at an all-time high.… This is just an absolute recipe for disaster,” said Laura Mosqueda, co-director of the National Center on Elder Abuse and director of the geriatrics program at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine, wrote USA Today.
Sadly, some elderly, especially in the current economy, are abused by those who care for them, making reporting very challenging and abuse very difficult to spot. Mickey Rooney, 91, for example, brought the issue into the national media when he testified before Congress last year that he suffered financial abuse by a family member, said USA Today. Ultimately, Rooney obtained a restraining order against his stepson, Chris Aber, filing a lawsuit accusing Aber of withholding food and medicine.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, about one in 14 cases of elder abuse comes to the attention of authorities, despite passage in 2010 of the Elder Justice Act, said USA Today, which noted the Act has received no funding. ”