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February 13, 2014

'Advocacy and Education' Key in Prevention of Elder Abuse

By John Kennett 
February 11, 2014

Elder abuse: Not a topic that’s easy to detect or deal with. But, an aging population means the topic is something that will become more and more of a serious concern across America.
“As more older adults become very old (beyond 85) we see the numbers of cases increase, and some of the debate about whether the actual incidence of elder abuse is increasing is because we know that elder abuse is under-reported,” said Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University.
The 2010 U.S. Census reported 40.3 million, or 13 percent of the total population, is age 65 and older. By 2050, that age bracket is expected to comprise 20 percent of the total U.S. population. In 2010, there were 5.8 million people aged 85 or older. By 2050, it is projected that there will be 19 million people aged 85 or older.
“The fastest growing segment of our population is those over 85,” said Midland County Senior Services (MCSS) Director Alan Brown.
The American Community Survey, published by the U.S. Census Bureau, stated that the 85+ population in Midland County was 1.4 percent, in 2000, dipped to 1 percent in 2005, and then grew to 1.9 percent in 2012.
FACTORS
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) states that as many as 2 million senior citizens are being abused. With approximately 90 percent of those abusers being family members, the NCEA defines elder abuse as: “The intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm. Domestic elder abuse generally refers to any of the following types of mistreatment that are committed by someone with whom the elder has a special relationship (for example, a spouse, sibling, child, friend or caregiver).”
“The most common form of elder abuse is psychological abuse, and financial abuse (5 percent per year prevalence rate) is second,” stated Lichtenberg. “In many cases the older adult is suffering from significant dementia (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) or is extremely frail and needs a lot of physical care. The abusers often live with the older adult, and many times have some financial dependence on the older adult.”
Joe Blewett, director at Pinecrest Farms, is also noticing more abuse on a nation-wide level.
“When you say, ‘abuse,’ it will most likely be in the form of neglect, which is abuse,” he said. “As the baby boomer population gets up there, people are staying in their homes longer and living longer. And they don’t necessarily know resources that are out there. I think we’re going to see it grow, unfortunately. But, then there are places like Pinecrest and (The Arc of Midland) that are great resources in the community to look out for that.”
Alzheimer’s can be another significant factor in elder abuse.

Abridged
SOURCE:      Midland Daily News
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