Nursing home abuse is on the rise as the elder population grows. As of 2010, 13% of the US population was over the age of 65. By 2050, it's estimated that as much as 20% of the population will be over 65. Older Americans are facing unprecedented levels of mistreatment at the hands of unscrupulous and careless long-term care employees, family members, and others.
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The Scope of Elder Abuse
The actual number of elders facing abuse is difficult to determine. Many seniors either cannot report the abuse due to physical or mental limitations, or don't report it because they fear they'll face retaliation. Others don't want to cause trouble for their abuser, especially if it's a family member; as many as nine of every ten abused seniors will avoid reporting the abuse if it's being done by a relative.
Some research has been done to try to capture the scope of elder abuse, and the best available information puts the number of elders experiencing abuse at somewhere between 7% and 10%. Of those who face abuse, only one in ten reported that they were not also victims of financial abuse, in addition to other types of abuse. These numbers are disturbing, especially when considering that, despite laws requiring reporting of cases of elder abuse, so few are actually reported to the proper authorities. As few as one in every 14 cases of elder abuse is properly reported, according to one study; another carried out by an elder abuse prevalence group found that for every case agencies were aware of, another 24 were not detected.
Costs of Elder Abuse
The fiscal impacts of elder abuse are profound. Violent injuries to elderly citizens account for more than $5 billion in annual health expenditures nationally. Nearly $3 billion dollars were lost by exploited senior citizens in 2009. That represented an increase of more than 10% from the previous year; in 2015, that figure had ballooned to nearly $17 billion.
Protecting Elders from Abuse
Elders can easily fall into the hands of an abuser, whether in a nursing home setting, a community home, or a private residence. For those who suspect a loved one is being abused, it's essential to consult with a nursing home abuse attorney. Woodstock families should take note of the rising prevalence and cost of elder abuse, and be ready to offer the protection and support of a nursing home abuse attorney.