Did you know that June 15 was "Elder Abuse Awareness Day" in Pennsylvania? If so, good for you. That means that you are at least somewhat aware of a persistent problem facing our elderly community in the state and throughout the country.
Even though that date has passed, it's important to pay that day some belated attention. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports some valuable statistics and elder abuse trends that should motivate people to try to prevent the abuse in nursing homes and among families as well.
There are various types of abuse that hurt the elderly everyday throughout the United States. Physical, emotional and financial abuse are all ways to reduce the quality of life of the elderly. Cases of physical abuse and negligence lead to fatal results as well, both in and out of nursing homes. Whether it is a nursing home employee or a family member who is perpetrating the abuse or neglect, that behavior is against the law and must be prevented.
According to Pennsylvania's Secretary of Aging, more than 18,000 cases of elder abuse were reported in this state alone last year. Not all of those cases have been confirmed, but at least 40 percent have been. That's at least several thousands of abused or neglected elderly victims in the state, some of whom fall victims to the hands of people who are paid to care for them.
A 2001 study suggested that about one-third of nursing homes and long-term care facilities had a problem with elder abuse. There are safe facilities, but the numbers and history show how important it is for anyone concerned about their safety or the safety of a loved one to keep their eyes open and speak up when in doubt.
The most commonly victimized of the elderly are women in their 80s with some level of dementia and those who are isolated. One method of abuse prevention, therefore, would be for family and friends to consistently see or contact their elderly loved ones. Also, they could reach out to other patients or elderly people outside of facilities to be a friend for them to rely on, someone who could potentially recognize a dangerous relationship or situation and step in if appropriate.
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, "Elder Abuse: A Hidden Epidemic," Michael Yudeli, June 26, 2012