Over the last few decades one of the major forces in America has been the baby boomer generation. They have had all the purchasing power in every market and have made up a major segment of society. In the next few years, the baby boomer generation will begin accounting for the population of the United States over the age of 65, or approximately 40.3 million or 13% of the total population of the country. Over the next 30 years more than 20% of the country will be older than 65, while the population of Americans over the age of 85, will rise to 19 million.
In short, America is getting older.
What is Elder Abuse?
While unfortunate, abuse of the elderly is a very real and increasing trend. Recent studies have shown that one in ten elderly have experienced abuse in the last year. Elder abuse is defined as any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver that causes harm or risk of harm to an elderly adult. The saddest part of this is that many cases of abuse go unreported, and exploitation, neglect and abuse continue undetected. Many of the abusers are in fact family members.
Startling Elder Abuse Stats
- The most recent major studies on incidence reported that 7.6%–10% of study participants experienced abuse in the prior year.6,7 The study that found an incidence of 1 in 10 adults experiencing abuse did not include financial abuse.8
- Available data from state Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies show an increasing trend in the reporting of elder abuse.
- Despite the accessibility of APS in all 50 states (whose programs are quite different), as well as mandatory reporting laws for elder abuse in most states, an overwhelming number of cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation go undetected and untreated each year.
- One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities.9 The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that for every case known to programs and agencies, 24 were unknown.10
- Major financial exploitation was self-reported at a rate of 41 per 1,000 surveyed, which was higher than self-reported rates of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.10
- 90% of abusers are family members.11
Best Online Resources for Elder Abuse
An organization specializing in helping victims of crime, this link explains the challenges that abused elders are facing and how you can recognize it.
1U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. (2011) The older population: 2010 (Publication C2010BR-09). Washington, D.C.: Author.
2U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. (2008) Population projections, 2008. Washington, D.C: Author.
3U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. (2010) The next four decades: The older population in the united states: 2010 to 2050 (Publication P25-1138). Washington, D.C.: Author.
6Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University. & New York City Department for the Aging. (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. New York: Author.
7Acierno R, Hernandez MA, Amstadter AB, Resnick HS, Steve K, Muzzy W, et al. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and potential neglect in the United States: The national elder mistreatment study. American Journal of Public, 100(2), 292-297.
8Teaster PB, Dugar T, Mendiondo M, Abner EL, Cecil KA, & Otto JM. (2004). The 2004 survey of adult protective services: Abuse of adults 60 years of age and older. Washington DC: National Center on Elder Abuse.
9National Research Council. (2003) Elder mistreatment: Abuse, neglect and exploitation in an aging America. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
10Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University. & New York City Department for the Aging. (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. New York: Author.
11National Center on Elder Abuse, Westat, Inc. (1998). The national elder abuse incidence study: Final report. Washington D.C.: Authors.