It’s been estimated by the Department of Health and Human Services that between 500,000 and 5,000,000 senior citizens are abused, neglected or exploited in the United States, and that many of these crimes go unreported.
A study conducted by Lifespan in Rochester, NY, showed that only 1 in 23.5 elder abuse cases is reported. For senior citizens financially exploited, only 1 in 43.9 cases is reported, and in cases of neglect, only 1 in 57.2 cases is reported. In persons age 60 and older, approximately 1 in 13 persons (7.6%) suffers from at least one form of elder abuse.
Emotional and psychological abuse is the most common form of elder abuse, followed by physical abuse. Financial exploitation is the most predominant form of elder abuse. It is for these reasons that the Elder Justice Act was enacted in March, 2010.
What is it?
This legislation was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act and authorized over $750,000,000 for the coordination of efforts to promote justice for the elderly by the prevention, detection, treatment, intervention, and prosecution of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of senior citizens on a national level.
Why is this Act important for seniors?
- No senior citizen is exempt from this type of abuse because it crosses all racial, gender, social class and geographic boundaries.
- Any senior who is abused, neglected, or exploited is not only mistreated, but they are also 3.1 times more likely to die at an earlier age than senior citizens who have not been victims of abuse.
- This type of abuse can trigger a downward spiral of an otherwise productive, self-sufficient life for a senior citizen.
- Every senior citizen has the right not to be abused, neglected, or exploited.
- This legislation provides federal resources to state and community efforts to fight elder abuse with scarce resources and fragmented systems.
What does this legislation provide for?
- The promotion of awareness of the abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly at a national level.
- A way for information to be collected and accessed regarding elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
- Improvement in the research, clinical practice, training, and circulation of information on this type of elderly abuse.
- Improvement in detecting abuse of seniors.
- Creating safe places for seniors to stay who are unsafe where they live, and for developing programs that focus on the special needs of seniors at risk and those of older victims.
- Resources for law enforcement in the support of elder justice and the increase of prosecution and prevention of crimes against elders.
- Training in the fight against elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
- Special programs to support under served populations including rural, minority and Indian seniors.
- A study which will review state laws and practices relating to justice for the elderly.
- An increase in security, collaboration, and consumer information in long-term care by:
- Improvement of reporting crimes promptly in long-term care settings
- Long-term care workers receiving criminal background checks
- Long-term care staff enhancement
- A Long-Term Care Clearinghouse for consumers to receive information about long-term care
- A new federal law to promote accountability in order to prosecute abuse and neglect in nursing homes
- Evaluation of success and assurance that funds are being properly spent.
Elder Justice Coalition: A national organization which was created to promote justice for the elderly through advocacy, education, and the support of federal initiatives.
National Council on Aging: A national organization dedicated to seniors’ health improvement, independent living, remaining involved and active in their communities, and finding employment and benefits. To do this, they unite nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government in order to develop innovative solutions that improve the lives of senior citizens.
National Center on Elder Abuse: A national resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder mistreatment. To accomplish their goal, the NCEA circulates information on elder abuse information to professionals and the public, and provides technical assistance and training to states and to community-based organizations.
National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse: Funded by congress, a committee which partners with the National Center on Elder Abuse to protect the safety, security and dignity of senior citizens. It consists of educators, researchers, practitioners, and advocates who are dedicated to the purpose of understanding this type of abuse and providing the direction and leadership to prevent it.
United States Department of Justice: Enforces the laws of the United States.
A compilation of legal resources for the elderly: 1800wheelchair.com.