Editorial: Elder abuse on the rise with growing older population
As the quality of healthcare and the average life expectancy in the United States has gone up, so too unfortunately has the incidence of elder abuse. The demographic of people 85 years and older is the fastest growing age group in the United States, and many of those people require various degrees and forms of elder care. To meet this demand, both honest and alleged elder care institutions have cropped up all across the country. As cases of fraud and abuse are on the rise because of these alleged elder care institutions, it is becoming more and more imperative for elders and their loved ones to learn how to prevent elder abuse and how to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent elder care providers.
Some examples of elder abuse in recent news and local headlines include caregiver theft, exploitation, and substandard care that puts the elder in physical danger. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, reported instances of abuse towards elders have increased by 20% from 2000 to 2006. Yet an even bigger issue – according to the Dr. Mark Lachs of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare system, is that most problems related to elder abuse are not even reported. An interview he conducted with 4,000 elders showed that only one out of thirteen incidences of elder abuse is detected and documented
This is why, in today’s increasingly predatory climate, elder abuse prevention and awareness is as important as litigation and response. Not only elders, but their families, friends, and acquaintances should be on the lookout for signs of physical and financial abuse and neglect. These signs include but are not limited to: behavioral changes, unusual financial activity, or deteriorating healthcare with new caregivers or care providing institutions.