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July 23, 2015

Elder abuse ­— Senior citizens are victims, too

 July 21, 2015 

The Sun Current -
Nearly 100 elderly Minnesotans per day are suffering from neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse and isolation, according to the most recent statistics.

Loren Colman, assistant commissioner of Continuing Care for Older Adults for the state Human Services department, reported that in 2014 there were 35,877 reports of abuse to the elderly: 46.9 percent were caregiver neglect, 23 percent self-neglect, 17 percent financial exploitation, 10 percent physical and emotional, and 3.2 percent mental.
Seniors are the fastest growing group in Minnesota, with some predicting that by 2020 they will equal the number of children in K-12 education. According to the last federal census, 13 percent of Minnesotans are 65 and over. That number is predicted to be 20 percent by 2050.
Often elderly abuse is undetected because the aging are reluctant to reveal it, and their close families are hesitant to deal with it. Ironically, immediate family members are the biggest abusers, while they also can be the first to recognize and help elderly family members.
One growing concern is financial abuse. The elderly are increasingly victims of scams, fraud and outright theft, sometimes committed by close family members.
Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo tracks elderly abuse cases. He says that two-thirds of cases involve family members, particularly those who have the power of attorney and write checks on the elderly’s accounts. Elderly women are especially victims, Palumbo says.
Carmen Castaneda, program manager of adult services for Hennepin County, estimates 90 percent of elderly abuse complaints involve the family. Last year there were 700 new allegations of financial exploitation reported in the county. Palumbo noted that banks now have the authority to monitor suspicious transactions involving the elderly.
The Minnesota Department of Health, through its Department of Adult Protection, is the lead agency for investigating elderly abuse claims. Treatment is provided through counties.
On July 1, the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center for reporting the abuse of vulnerable adults – including the elderly – went live at 844-880-1574. The center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Identity of the reporters is protected, and reporters can ask to receive a notice of the initial outcome of the report.
Castaneda says she now has the staff to check on reported allegations within a half hour. She praised Hennepin County management and the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners for increasing funding for more staff.
According to the Department of Human Services, all 87 counties have adult protection units responsible for assessing and investigating reports of suspected maltreatment and offering protective services to vulnerable adults. State agencies investigate reports involving nursing facilities or group homes.

Abridged
SOURCE:  The Sun Current

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