Sarah Gravlee in Billings, Montana reports that the number of elder abuse cases is on the rise and will skyrocket over the next two decades. As the baby boomer generation enters into retirement, the number of senior citizens will rise, as will the number of senior citizens who fall prey to elder abuse.
These instances of abuse include physical and financial abuse. Examples of physical abuse include the refusal of family members or caregivers to pay for heat or electricity, leaving elder citizens cold and without power for months on end. In financial abuse cases, younger family members steal money from the elder’s Social Security checks.
According to this article, more than 1 million Americans over the age of 65 have been injured, exploited, or mistreated at some point by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.
While legal recourseis available for victims of elder abuse, a significant hurdle is the reluctance of victims to report the abuse. Denise Armstrong of Big Sky Senior Services says that only one in ten cases of elder abuse are reported; 90% are not. To respond to this crisis of secrecy, Big Sky Senior Services has begun educating the general public on issues of elder abuse. They have trained gatekeepers, bank tellers, meter readers, and mail carriers to detect and report instances of possible elder abuse. This new method of prevention provides allies in the community for potential victims of elder abuse, but does not diminish the importance of reporting abuse and seeking help. Instead, elderly victims should work with the community to report abuse in order to reduce the future number of abuses and victims.