Recent data reveal a sharp increase in reported abuses against the elderly and vulnerable. Although it is unclear whether this rise indicates that the actual incidences of abuse have increased or that more people are coming forward to report it, public authorities and elder abuse attorneys have stepped up their anti-abuse efforts.
Although reliable figures on abuse are hard to document, an estimated 10 percent of the vulnerable population, which includes the elderly as well as those with physical or mental disabilities, are abuse victims. The number of elderly Americans has increased by five million over the past 15 years. In nursing homes and care facilities, abuse usually takes the form of neglect. At the community level, it primarily involves financial exploitation.
Interpreting the Information
While the number of abuse reports has certainly grown, it is unclear whether abuse is on the rise, or is simply more likely to be reported. If the abused or third parties are more willing to complain about it, the number of reports will increase even if the actual incidences of abuse have declined or remain unchanged.
At the same time, there is reason to believe that abuse rates may actually be even higher than current figures indicate. Elderly and vulnerable victims often feel ashamed to admit that they have been abused or manipulated. Current reports may thus reveal only a fraction of the problem.
Whatever the source of these data, public authorities have committed themselves to putting a stop to all forms of abuse. In nursing homes, this involves training staff to perform their duties directly and to report abuse when they witness it. Nursing home administrators are thus continuing their efforts to train workers effectively. Stopping abuse at the community level is more difficult because communities do not have defined authorities or caretakers; however, advocates are determined to find a solution.
Elder abuse attorneys Garcia, Artigliere & Medby fight for the rights of vulnerable populations. We provide the advice and legal support needed to gain restitution in cases of abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one has been abused, visit our website today.