The elderly are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Physical and mental challenges may make them dependant on family members or other caretakers. Unfortunately, their vulnerability also makes them targets of nursing home abuse. This abuse can come in several forms: physical, financial, emotional or sexual.
With longer life spans and the aging of the baby boomers, there is concern among advocates for the elderly that appropriate resources for abuse victims are available.
“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,” explained Laura Mosqueda, co-director of the National Center on Elder Abuse.
Some estimates have indicated that as many as one out of 10 seniors will be victims of abuse. Sadly, abuse often goes unreported. It is estimated that only one out of 14 cases is brought to the attention of authorities, according to the National Academy of Sciences.
The most common type of abuse is financial; often elders unknowingly sign assets over to their caretakers, leaving them with nothing. Physical abuse includes beatings but also forms of neglect like not receiving enough food or water or being cleaned appropriately.
Currently there are only six elder abuse shelters in the country, but advocates are pushing for more. In Alabama, an elder justice bill has been put forward which includes a commission focused on protecting the elderly, according to TimesDaily.com.
As the population continues to age the problem may only continue to grow. According to the Census Bureau, the amount of people who reach age 90 and above has tripled over the past 30 years and will likely quadruple by 2050.