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May 14, 2011

Abuse of Elders, Often by Family Members, is a Growing Problem (USA)


Abuse of elders, often by family members, is a growing problem
by Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
April 28, 2011
Moorhead, Minn. —
It was an April evening a year ago when a mother and son began arguing in their Moorhead home. She accused him of stealing her money.
The unemployed and divorced son, 57, who had moved into the home three and a half years earlier, choked his mother as she sat in her rocking chair, according to court documents. He then pushed or threw her down the basement stairs.
While she lay at the bottom of the stairs, her son stepped over her as he went outside to bury 369 $100 bills in the backyard. About 45 minutes later he called an ambulance.
Like many victims of elder abuse, the woman didn't want to tell her story. The woman still fears her son will harm her. MPR News has decided not to name him to protect her identity.
But her plight is increasingly common. Elder abuse isn't tracked as a crime in Minnesota, so statistics are hard to come by, but experts say the problem is growing.
The abuse frequently happens in the victim's home, and the abuser is often a family member. The typical case involves money, physical abuse or neglect -- sometimes with brutal consequences.
The Moorhead woman suffered a broken hip, dislocated shoulder and broken ribs. No longer able to live independently, she will be in a nursing home for the rest of her life, Clay County Prosecutor Jenny Samarzja said.
Prosecutors were only able to charge her son with third-degree assault.
It's not clear how often such abuse occurs.
Minnesota tracks abuse involving vulnerable adults -- anyone 18 and older who is physically or mentally impaired and unable to care for themselves. More than of the reported cases of vulnerable adult abuse in Minnesota involve people 65 and older, according to the state Department of Human Services.
Nationally, an estimated 11 percent of people 60 and older experience some form of abuse or exploitation, according to a 2009 study by the National Institute of Justice.
But only about 20 percent of all cases are ever reported, say experts at the National Center on Elder Abuse.



SOURCE:     Minnesota Public Radio
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