Elder Abuse and Neglect
The "Best Kept Secret"
says Eldercare Specialist
Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation are among this country's best
kept secrets, says Barbara H. Hance, President of Barbara H. Hance
Associates, a Farmington eldercare and lifecare specialist.
was a featured speaker at the Fourth Global Conference of the
International Federation on Aging, held last week in Montreal,
She told the
international audience that over the past 10 years, there has
been an increase of 150% in reported elder abuse in the U.S. Because
the numbers are still hidden under the veil of family and personal
secrecy, it is impossible to know the actual number of abuse cases.
In 1999, the National Center of Elderly Abuse estimated 2.1 million
cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
percentage of abusers are caregivers, including family members,
children and grandchildren," Mrs. Hance told the Conference.
"Many times, it is caused by greed, in addition to economic
need and emotional stress."
no surprise that the most frequent abuser is a caregiver,"
she says. "The role of caregiver is difficult and frustrating.
Caregivers often fail to recognize symptoms of "burnout."
Hitting, slapping and screaming at the one you care for, or physically
restraining them, are signs that the situation is out of control.
more money on research on longevity than we do with dealing with
the psychological effects of aging," she says, "Yet,
the aging population is blamed for the burden on taxpayers, for
welfare spending, for chaos in the healthcare system and many
other crises that face America today."
In less than
12 years, the 76 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1954
will begin to join the ranks of older Americans. The U.S. Census
Bureau projects that by the year 2006, there will be more than
36 million people over the age of 65. By 2020, 20% of Americans
will be over 65 (53.2 million), presenting new and more difficult
demands for the country and its economy.
told the Conference that governments should focus on elder abuse
prevention, with specifically-deigned training programs for service
providers, police departments and medical personnel, as well as
improved cooperation and coordination between state agencies and
service providers. She also recommended clearly defined procedures
in dealing with abuse and abusers, as well as public awareness
campaigns to enable people to more readily recognize and report
abuses against the elderly.