Elder Abuse and Neglect Cases on the Rise and Underreported
A recent USA Today article highlighted the growing problem of elder abuse cases, particularly self-neglect cases. According to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, adult protective services agencies conducted over 713,000 investigations in 2017, in which case they identified nearly 235,000 victims of abuse. Massachusetts confirmed 7,100 cases of abuse and neglect cases in 2015 and that number increased to 9,800 in 2017. According to USA Today, “elder abuse can range from physical or sexual assault against vulnerable seniors to financial scams to abandonment or neglect by caregivers.” The most common threat is an elder’s self-neglect where they are unable to attend to basic needs for themselves. This is a problem that is continuing to grow as the population continues to age. And what is especially concerning is that there is no mandate for states to collect information and data on elder abuse matters. Therefore, there is a serious lack of information available to show how wide-spread the problem. It is presumed that elder abuse and self-neglect cases are actually much higher than reported. Although it may be more difficult to tell if an elder is being abused by a third party, self-neglect cases can present as more obvious to neighbors, friends and family. These cases are especially difficult because people have a right to not take proper care of themselves and elders have a tendency to vigorously defend their autonomy and reject assistance. Those with expertise in elder abuse situations should be consulted so it can be determined at what point the elder is at risk to cause harm to himself or others. Loved ones should be encouraged to assist the elder or make a report to protective services if necessary.
The attorneys at Pabian & Russell, LLC are here to help you if you know an elder at risk. If you have questions and would like to speak to an attorney, please call our Elder Law Group at 617-951-3100.