Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fueled by aging baby boomers, a growing number of elderly residents are falling victim to physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation

Investigations of such cases have nearly doubled in the past five years — jumping from about 5,200 in 2005 to nearly 10,000 last year — as the state heads towards a “silver tsunami” by 2030, when 1.2 million people 60 and older are projected to make up nearly one-fourth of the population.

Yet as the number of reports rose, the state's rate of substantiating abuse or neglect fell, dropping last year to about 17 percent — well below the national average of almost 50 percent.

Advocates say this is just one example of how Kentucky is doing too little to address its urgent need to find ways to better serve seniors.

Others problems found by The Courier-Journal in a six-month review:
Because of budget problems, the state has about 500 fewer “front-line” social workers than it did a decade ago — down from about 2,000 to about 1,500. This has increased demands on workers.
In Adult Protective Services, the lead state agency that investigates suspected mistreatment of elderly and vulnerable adults, workers carry nearly twice the number of cases recommended under national standards.
About $6 million has been cut from the state Department for Aging and Independent Living, eroding programs meant to keep older adults healthy and safe in their communities. Those programs include Meals on Wheels and housekeeping help.

All this is putting the state's seniors at enormous risk, advocates say.
“These are the most vulnerable people in the state,” Deborah Anderson, the aging department's commissioner, told a panel of lawmakers earlier this year. “What this bottom line means is that we will not be able to meet their needs.”
In Louisville, a few hours of weekly personal care assistance means Bessie Cronin, 99, can live safely in her own apartment at a senior complex and enjoy the independence she prizes.

But a growing number of seniors remain on waiting lists for such help because of limited state resources, said Nancy Gordon, who supervises the care Cronin receives through the local Area Agency on Aging. And that means more elders may be living at home but unable to care for themselves or have anyone from outside checking in and providing assistance, Gordon said.

Read it all here=>>Courier Journal.Com

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