Elder abuse is a hidden problem, said Sharon Merriman-Nai, co-manager of the National Center of Elder Abuse, based at the University of Delaware.
Experts believe it may be more prevalent than spousal abuse but is even more under-reported because victims are fearful of retribution, in denial, embarrassed or too disabled to speak up, she said. For every one report of elder abuse, Merriman-Nai said, an estimated five go unreported.
New York’s Adult Protection Services office received 33,380 referrals in 2007, about 60 percent of which involved adults over 60. According to 1997 data, 34 percent of elder abusers were adult children, 26 percent were spouses and 26 percent were unrelated, according to the state.
The above is quoted from the most recent Times Union article about the death of Mrs. Beth Adams. In addition to this information about the issue of elder abuse, the article gives a glimpse of some more of the gruesome details about her death. If the result of this horrific case is that more of our elders are protected, that is the most good that can be expected. However, just as there is a community outcry about protecting children from neglect and predatory behavior, so should there be for our elderly.
In my city, suspected abuse can be reported by calling the Albany County Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services at 447-7177. Do you know that number for where you live? If the situation is immediate and dangerous, of course, call 911 or your local police.
Additional resources about prevention of elder abuse are available from the US Dept of Heath and Human Services’ Administration on Aging – these can be found by clicking here.