Elder abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to an elderly person or puts a helpless older person at risk of harm. This includes:
•Physical, sexual and emotional abuse
•Neglecting or deserting an older person you are responsible for
•Taking or misusing an elderly person's money or property
Elder abuse can happen within the family. It can also happen in settings such as hospitals or nursing homes or in the community. Elder abuse is a serious problem in this country. All 50 states have laws against elder abuse. The laws differ, but all states have systems for reporting suspected abuse.
Abuse of Adults Aged 60+ 2004 Survey of Adult Protective Services
The 2004 Survey of State Adult Protective Services (APS), the most rigorous national study of state-level APS data conducted to date, offers important new insights into the troubling elder abuse problem.
The findings show a 19.7 percent increase in the combined total of reports of elder and vulnerable adult abuse and neglect and a 15.6 percent increase in substantiated cases in the four years since the last survey was conducted in 2000.
The study, which analyzed the latest data from the states, found that overall, in 2003, APS agencies received 565,747 reports of suspected elder and vulnerable adult abuse, as compared with 482,913 reports four years ago.
The 2004 Survey collected 2003 fiscal year data from all 50 states, Guam, and the District of Columbia. Most important, at least two-thirds of the states were able to separate out reports of elder abuse from vulnerable adult abuse. Among those 32 states responding, there were 253,426 incidents involving elder abuse, ranging from a low of 85 in Guam to a high of 66,805 in California. This represents 8.3 reports of abuse for every 1,000 older Americans.
Types of abuse and perpetrators
In 2003, slightly more than half (52.7%) of the alleged perpetrators of elder abuse or neglect were female (11 states reporting). Three out of every four alleged offenders (75.1%) were under 60 (7 states reporting).
Most alleged perpetrators in 2003 were adult children (32.6%) or other family members (21.5%). Spouses/intimate partners accounted for 11.3% of the total (11 states responding).
Twenty-one of the states (40.4%) maintain an abuse registry or database of alleged perpetrators, while 31 (59.6%) do not. As reported by 19 states, types of maltreatment substantiated included:
* Self neglect (37.2%)
* Caregiver neglect (20.4%)
* Financial exploitation (14.7%)
* Emotional/psychological/verbal abuse (14.8%)
* Physical abuse (10.7%)
* Sexual abuse (1%)
* Other (1.2%)
Who are the victims?
Older women, according to the survey, are far more likely than men to suffer from abuse or neglect. were women (15 states reporting).
In 20 of the states, more than two in five victims (42.8%) were age 80 or older.
The majority (77.1%) of victims, according to reports from 13 states, were Caucasian.
NATIONAL CENTER ON ELDER ABUSE, WASHINGTON, DC