Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Overview on Elder Abuse

It’s no secret that the Baby Boomer generation is bringing aging issues to the forefront more so than ever before. One of these critical issues is the growing concern of elder abuse. While this is a relatively new field, there is some available research and an understanding of the scope of the problem.

According to the Elder Abuse Center “some 10 percent of people age 70+ have mild to severe cognitive impairment, and prevalence rises sharply with age.” There is a whole body of growing evidence showing that cognitive decline and depression are strong independent risk factors for abuse and neglect. Education about elder abuse is a key factor in prevention.

While specific laws vary state to state elder abuse is defined as any knowing, intentional, or negligence by a caregiver or other persons that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. The term “vulnerable adult” is typically defined as any person 18 years plus that has a physical or psychological or developmental disability. While younger adults with a disability can be victims of abuse, the rate of abuse of elderly persons happens at a much higher rate. Elder abuse has been and continues to be grossly underreported. Elder abuse can include any physical, sexual and emotion abuse, financial exploitation and neglect. Some of the most significant risk factors are social isolation and mental limitations such as dementia making it almost impossible for alleged victims to disclose abuse and seek the help they need.

More information about elder abuse and steps to keep the elder community safe can be found at http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/psa/