The National Center on Elder Abuse has come out with their most recent statistics and the results are truly staggering. It begins by acknowledging that the “Boomer Generation” effect will continue for decades and predicts that between 2012 and 2050, the United States will experience considerable growth in its older population. In fact, by 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to rise to 83.7 million souls, which is almost double its current population. Older women will continue to outpace older men.
The survey concentrates on all forms of elder abuse and ranks the most common in the following order: financial, neglect, emotional, physical and sexual mistreatment. Low social support is most commonly associated with elder abuse and seniors who are afflicted with dementia are 50% more likely to be exploited than their counterparts. Approximately half of all people over the age of 85, the fastest growing segment of the population, have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. In addition, this trend continues to ascend. Seniors who have previously suffered domestic violence were found to be at increased risk for emotional, sexual and financial mistreatment and women were at greater risk to be abused in this regard than were men. Who are the perpetrators? Surprisingly, family members were identified as most likely to engage in financial exploitation (57.9%) followed by friends and neighbors (16.9%) and home health care aides (14.9%).
Perhaps most alarming, however, are the statistics on abuse by caregivers, the very people who are charged with caring for the elderly. The particular study cited revealed that 47% of the participants with dementia had been mistreated by their caregivers. A previous study revealed that 50% of the people with dementia experienced some kind of abuse at the hands of their caregivers.
The study concluded by estimating the associated Medicaid costs of elder injuries at $5.3 billion per annum.
Discouraging elder abuse requires vigilance and action. As is now a common societal refrain, “if you see something, say something.”
Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is the founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of nursing home neglect. For many years he has lectured and served as an adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School. He has also been consistently named as a “Super Lawyer” by his peers as published by Boston Magazine.