27 March 2013
Every year millions of older adults are abused and neglected. (Carter 1) It is only in recent decades that elder mistreatment as a social policy issue has moved to the forefront of health care and social services in the United States. In earlier decades, the family was required to care for the elderly in the family, but due to economic changes and social standards, it is merely impossible for one person alone to stay home and care for their loved ones. Elders are the matriarchs and patriarchs of families and society. However with age and accompanying and cognitive decline, elders become increasingly vulnerable to mistreatment. The passage of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act legislation in the 1960s is illustrative of a shift toward increased awareness of, and attention to, human welfare issues impacting the elderly. (State Letter No 925) Elder abuse is a growing problem. While we don’t know all of the details about why abuse occurs or how to stop its spread, we do know that help is available for victims. (Domestic Violence Sourcebook 353) Elder abuse isn’t restricted to those of modest means or limited education. While domestic abuse and child abuse have attracted significant scrutiny over the past couple of decades, the scope of elder abuse has only recently gained attention as advocates push to bring this critical social issue to the public’s conscience. Consider these figures from the National Center on Elder Abuse: * An estimated 1-2 million elders are abused annually.
* Only one in 14 cases of elder is reported.
* Estimates of the frequency of elder abuse range from 2% to 10% (Sheehan 40). Those statistics may not tell the whole story. For every case of elder abuse and neglect reported to authorities, experts estimate as many as 23 cases go undetected. The quality of life of older individuals who experience abuse is severely jeopardized, as they often...