When an older adult is abused, neglected or exploited, the mistreatment often goes undetected, unreported and unaddressed. Though definitions of what constitutes elderly abuse can vary in confusing ways, the scope of injustice that elderly New Yorkers face has recently become much clearer.
The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study
Cornell University, Cornell Weill Medical College, Lifespan of Greater Rochester and the New York City Department for the Aging recently released a groundbreaking study that illuminates the depth and breadth of the elderly abuse problem throughout the state of New York. The study, which was conducted over a three-year period, is the second largest completed study of elderly abuse in the world and is the first to explore the problem across an entire state’s geography. The key findings include:
- One in 13 elderly New Yorkers (an estimated 260,000 individuals) suffered from abuse or neglect in 2008
- Only one in 76 abused elderly people reported their mistreatment
- The highest rates of abuse occurred in regards to major financial exploitation
The study illuminates not only how widespread elderly abuse is in New York, but also the extent to which the problem has gone underreported. Elder abuse is often easy to hide, disguise or dismiss. In addition, many older adults feel too ashamed to admit that either family or their care facility has taken advantage of them. Reporting is so rare, in fact, that for every one documented case in New York’s service system, an estimated 24 go unreported and unaddressed. This distressing fact is not aided by the reality that New York is only one of two remaining states that does not mandate elder abuse reporting in the same ways that it mandates child abuse reporting.
Elder abuse is not simply a state problem, but a national problem. It has been estimated that for every case of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation that is reported nationally, five additional cases go unreported. More research and more legislative action must be contemplated in order to ensure the safety of the nation’s seniors.
In addition, loved ones and strangers alike should educate themselves on the warning signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Taking proactive steps to guard the elderly against mistreatment and remedying any past mistreatment through legal action and proper care will better ensure the health and well-being of the nation’s oldest citizens.
If you or your loved one is the victim of elderly abuse or nursing home negligence, now is the time to act. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area today.