Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty, through the courts.

January 12, 2012

As USA Grays, Elder Abuse Risk and Need for Shelters Grow

As USA grays, elder abuse risk and need for shelters grow
They're weak, physically or mentally disabled or both, and often at the mercy of people they depend on the most: relatives and caretakers.
By Bruce A Crippen, for USA TODAY
January 10, 2012

They're the nation's fast-growing elderly population, and many are prime targets for abuse — physical, financial, sexual or emotional.
Concern among the elderly and their advocates is mounting as the number of seniors soars and more of them live longer.
The Cedar Village Retirement Community in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason this month opened a long-term care facility to victims of abuse. It is the first elder abuse shelter in Ohio and one of only a half-dozen in the country, all of them funded by non-profit groups.
"There is a genuine recognition by those who are concerned by the abuse of elders that there need to be appropriate safe houses for them to get them out of immediate harm's way," says Sally Hurme, AARP's senior project manager in education and outreach. "Nationally, we've been aware of the need for elder abuse shelters, but they've been slow in coming into fruition."
The first in the nation, the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx in New York City opened just seven years ago and serves as a model for the few others.
Advocates for the old are pushing for more and launching campaigns to educate communities about elder abuse and how to prevent it.
The number of people who live to age 90 and beyond has tripled in the past three decades to 2 million and is projected to quadruple by 2050, according to the Census Bureau. The number of 65-plus grew 15.1% since 2000 to 40.3 million or 13% of the total population.
'Recipe for disaster'
As their numbers grow, the dismal economy has forced many to live with children and grandchildren, a situation that may tempt the unscrupulous to take advantage of the old in their care.
"Amazing things are occurring simultaneously," says Laura Mosqueda, co-director of the National Center on Elder Abuse and director of the geriatrics program at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine. "The fastest-growing segment are people over 85 and the percentage of people with Alzheimer's, dementia is at an all-time high. … This is just an absolute recipe for disaster."
Ohio's Shalom Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at Cedar Village will care for abused seniors in four counties and provide medical, nursing and therapy services, meals, legal services, social work, pastoral care and social, recreational and educational programs.
"We estimate that as many as one in 10 (seniors) at some point are victims of elder abuse," says Carol Silver Elliott, CEO and president of the retirement community. "A victim of elder abuse can be anyone. They can be rich or poor. They can be independent. They can live in a facility."

Signing their assets away
She cites cases of seniors who fall ill and unknowingly sign over their assets to people who care for them, becoming victims of the most common form of elder abuse: financial.
"A few months later they find out they don't have a house, their bank account is cleaned out," Elliott says. "They have essentially nothing."
Others suffer physical abuse that can range from not being fed or cleaned to being beaten.

Former child actor and entertainment great Mickey Rooney, now 91, put a national spotlight on the problem when he testified before Congress last March that he had been financially abused by a family member. Earlier last year, Rooney had obtained a restraining order from a judge in Los Angeles against his stepson, Chris Aber, and filed suit in September. He has accused Aber of withholding food and medicine. Aber denied the allegations.
The problem is tough to spot and often goes unreported because the victims are abused by those who care for them. "Very frequently, what the perpetrator tries to do is to cut the individual off … so they do not have access to sources of information," Hurme says.
Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary of the Administration on Aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, testified last August before a Senate panel that reports of elder abuse to states are on the rise. The National Academy of Sciencesestimates that only one in 14 cases comes to the attention of authorities. The Elder Justice Act passed in 2010 but has received zero funding while states cut budgets.
"Programs have had to cope with limited staffing to carry out even the most basic program functions of receiving and investigating reports of abuse," Greenlee testified.
Mosqueda, who runs the government-funded National Center on Elder Abuse, says she hopes to increase public awareness of the problem "until everybody in this country understands everybody can be a victim, everybody can be an abuser."

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