The recent Census recorded more than 40 million people age 65 and older in the U.S. These “Baby Boomers” represent the largest segment of our population, and within two decades they are expected to comprise more than 20 percent of our entire population.
Unfortunately, many of our older population suffer abuse inflicted upon them by their caregivers. This is the result of many factors, but the most important is that the elderly are often forced to rely on others for their care, because of physical infirmity or mental incapacity. Such vulnerabilities lead to different types of abuse, including physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial exploitation.
In the sections that follow, we’ll look at the frequency of elder abuse, with a focus on the extent of the problem in the nursing home setting.
What is Elder Abuse?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define “elder abuse” as “any abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust.”
How Often Does Elder Abuse Occur?
According to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, we really do not know exactly how many persons experience elder abuse or neglect. There are a number of reasons why the data is so fuzzy. For one, many people are reluctant to report incidents of abuse and neglect, including the victims themselves and those who were responsible for ensuring their care. Additionally, many people who work with the elderly lack the requisite training to properly identify signs of abuse or neglect.
Having said all that, a number of recent studies have helped to shed light on the extent of the problem of elder abuse.
People are finding out that it is dangerous to hire a caregiver for an elderly person who is not certified for eldercare.
What are the Statistics on Elder Abuse?
A 2010 study conducted by Cornell University and the New York City Department for the Aging, Under The Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, made the following findings:
- The elder abuse incidence rate is nearly 24 times greater than the number of cases referred to social services, law enforcement, or legal authorities.
- Psychological abuse is the most common form of elder abuse.
- In New York alone, at least 260,000 older adults had been the victims of at least some form of abuse.
Another report (the “National Elder Mistreatment Study“) found that seven to 10 percent of all persons surveyed experienced some form of abuse in the previous 12 months.
by: David Landers nolo.com