Monday, March 24, 2008

Elder Abuse On The Rise

Fall River Herald News - MA, USA by By Deborah Allard

Bristol Elder Services investigated 243 cases of elder abuse from July to December of 2007, showing a disturbing upward trend of abuse and mistreatment of local senior citizens.
The year before, the elder advocacy agency opened 202 cases of elder abuse.

Reports ranged from physical, emotional and sexual abuse, to financial exploitation, self-neglect and caretaker neglect — the latter two ranking among the highest forms of elder abuse.
“It does seem to be an increasing problem for more and more elders,” said Karen Statser, Bristol Elder Services’ director of programs.

“A lot of people hope that if they reach that stage of life and are healthy, they should be able to enjoy it,” said Dias-Rezendes.

“We know that there are probably more cases that go unreported,” said Statser. “As much as possible, we try to preserve their way of life for them.”

Abuse cases are up statewide, with a 12 percent rise in the last two years. Since July of 2007, there have been more than 700 elder abuse reports in the 23 communities — including the greater Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton areas — served by Bristol Elder Services.

The agency’s emergency abuse hot line has been busier, too. In fiscal year 2006, the hot line received 81 after-hours calls. That number rose to 195 in fiscal year 2007.
Statser said reports are up because there are simply a greater number of elders living today as baby boomers reach their senior years and medical advancements continue to prolong life. She thinks people are also becoming more knowledgeable about the mistreatment of elderly people and are stepping up and reporting abuse.
“I think people are becoming more informed,” said Dias-Rezendes. “They’re recognizing the signs and symptoms of abuse.”

She said other agencies and interested individuals can join the coalition and take part in an elder abuse training on April 2 at a time and place to be announced.
To learn more about the Elder Justice Coalition, call Statser or Dias-Rezendes at Bristol Elder Services at 508-675-2105.

To report elder abuse, call the above number during normal business hours or call the emergency hot line at 800-922-2275 after hours.


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