Elder abuse remains hidden problem as baby boomers reach old age

Despite the 2010 passage of the Elder Justice Act, policy experts have found that combating widespread abuse of seniors is still not a top priority for care providers and governments alike. As many as one in 10 people age 60 and over are affected by this problem, according to the newest Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR) from the National Academy on an Aging Society, the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America. U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY), who have been heavily involved in legislation to address elder abuse, contributed introductory statements for the issue.

Elder abuse encompasses mistreatment, neglect, and exploitation of a physical, psychological, or sexual nature. The Elder Justice Act was signed into law as part of 2010's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, yet it has received no appropriations to date.

PPAR article author Marie-Therese Connolly, JD, a 2011 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, presents an extensive analysis of the numerous agencies with responsibility for addressing elder abuse but whose efforts continue to lack adequate coordination and direction. She currently is the director of the nonprofit Life Long Justice, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and is a consulting expert on the federal government's Elder Justice Roadmap Project.

"The human and economic toll exacted by elder abuse is vast, cruel, and costly," said Connolly. "It's an issue where real federal leadership and a modest investment of resources — by Congress, the Administration, and private funders — could have a profound impact, mitigating the suffering of millions of people and saving billions of dollars."

She also found that the mistreatment of the senior population can cause a cascade of consequences with implications for the health and economic security of victim, family, community, and nation. Connolly demonstrated that elder abuse has been shown to increase rates of mortality, injury, and disease, as well as a four-fold increase in nursing home admissions.

Other authors focus on data showing that elder abuse remains seriously under-addressed by , as well as a recommended agenda for future research, education, training, and advocacy.

"We are humbled by the collective work of many pioneers and dedicated community, state, and federal organizations to combat the issues of , neglect and exploitation — all with the synergistic purposes to improve health and aging, to give voice to those victims who could not, and to protect an extremely vulnerable population from the egregious human right violations," said XinQi Dong, MD, MPH, a Rush University Medical Center professor who was instrumental in organizing this publication.

Provided by The Gerontological Society of America

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Neurologists should ask patients about abuse

Jan 25, 2012

A new position statement issued by the American Academy of Neurology calls on neurologists to begin screening their patients for abusive or violent treatment by family, caretakers or others. The position statement is published ...

Recommended for you

Patient-centered medical homes reduce costs

12 hours ago

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH), introduced in 2007, is a model of health care that emphasizes personal relationships, team delivery of care, coordination across specialties and care settings, quality ...

New mums still excessively sleepy after four months

14 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—New mums are being urged to be cautious about returning to work too quickly, after a QUT study found one in two were still excessively sleepy four months after giving birth.

It's time to address the health of men around the world

14 hours ago

All over the world, men die younger than women and do worse on a host of health indicators, yet policy makers rarely focus on this "men's health gap" or adopt programs aimed at addressing it, according to an international ...

User comments