In early January 2013, a report drew attention to elderly abuse in St. Louis-area nursing homes, and now an Associated Press piece shows that neglect, physical, and verbal abuse aren’t unique to these institutions. Rather, even when an elderly person is in the care of a family member, abuse still can – and frequently does – occur and is expected to increase as the Baby Boomer population ages.
The Associated Press article details a shelter for elderly citizens, The Shalom Center, in Mason, Ohio. Here, residents admit to having their funds drained, being overcharged for grocery shopping, and experiencing physical neglect and abuse, all while being in the care of family members.
But this shelter is simply a microcosm representing wide-spread – and likely underreported – abuse and neglect against the elderly. While the estimated amount hovers around two million per year, it is believed that as many as one in 10 people 65 years of age or older experience some form of abuse or neglect.
However, knowing how many cases occur and deciding to prosecute are not clear-cut instances. As AP points out, the resources for investigating these cases, as opposed to child abuse, are fewer and, because of the economy, are expected to be cut even more. Individuals experiencing the abuse, as well, are reluctant to come forward because of embarrassment or losing financial support. Finding witnesses, additionally, makes many prosecutors hesitant to go forward with such cases, although Trantolo & Trantolo handles cases of nursing home abuse and elderly neglect in Connecticut.
However, elderly abuse is predicted to become a growing and far more serious concern, especially as the number of elderly Americans is expected to increase two-fold by 2030. Factors contributing are aging Boomers and more adults living past 85 years of age.
In Connecticut, elderly abuse, regardless of whether it occurs in a household, a nursing home, or similar care facility, is illegal. Those abusing or neglecting persons 60 years of age or older face fines up to $10,000 or 10 years in prison.