Millions of elderly people are hit, punched, scammed and screamed at every single day! In fact, new statistics show that 1-in-10 seniors have been abused, exploited, or neglected at least once. And experts believe the real number is much higher. A lot of cases aren’t reported because the senior citizen being abused has dementia or Alzheimer’s, which makes it difficult for them to register that the abuse is happening – never mind report it.
Also, a lot of seniors are too embarrassed or scared to go to the police – because they’re being abused by their own family members! And sadly, when elder abuse is reported, there’s often not a lot that can be done. Budget cuts have slashed the number of abuse investigators, so it can take months to collect evidence and build a case. And even then, most cases don’t go to trial because seniors are unpredictable on the stand. Either they’re suffering from medical conditions that make it difficult for them to communicate or they don’t want to testify against a relative.
Experts are predicting that elder abuse will only become a bigger problem because 74 million Baby Boomers are hitting their senior years. And that’s why a lot of new elder abuse shelters are popping up – places where abused seniors can live until caseworkers find them a safe living situation. The shelters also provide medical, psychological and legal help. Lawmakers are also campaigning to raise public awareness. They want to roll out new programs to help people spot the signs of abuse – especially those who come in contact with the elderly, from hairdressers to bus drivers.
If you know a senior citizen who needs help, contact the National Center on Elder Abuse.