Friday, February 18, 2011

Elder Abuse is far more Rampant than Evidenced : For Every Case of Financial Exploitation Reported, 44 Cases go Unreported

By By Sen. Katherine Clark and Rep. Paul Brodeur

In recent months, a Fall River family was arrested for criminal neglect of their grandmother who was admitted to the hospital with bedsores so deep they exposed muscle and tendon. A Topsfield man pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter of his mother after an abusive episode of yelling and striking his mother with a telephone resulted in fatal injuries. A Hyannis stockbroker awaits trial for swindling elderly clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of their hard-earned savings. Elderly abuse is often hidden because it is frequently perpetrated by family members, close acquaintances, and caregivers, but it occurs in every community in the Commonwealth.

For nearly three decades, Massachusetts has had laws in place to protect elders from abuse. But statistics now show that abuse within one of our most vulnerable populations is increasing at an alarming rate. When Massachusetts established the elder protective services program in 1984, 1,500 reports were filed, but this year that number jumped to 19,500 reports – that equals 54 new cases each day. Nationally, a recent Cornell University study found that elder abuse is far more rampant than evidenced by reported cases. For every case of financial exploitation reported, 44 cases go unreported. For every case of neglect, 57 cases go unreported.

Elder abuse is not just physical and sexual violence; it also includes emotional abuse, self-neglect, and financial exploitation. Stealing from seniors and other forms of financial exploitation adds up to more than $2.6 billion a year nationally according to a report by Metlife’s Mature Market Institute. In this economy, personal savings, home equity and other “nest eggs” make seniors particularly vulnerable targets. Since family and caregivers are the perpetrators in 55 percent of the cases of financial fraud against seniors, these crimes often go undetected, and it is often difficult for well-intentioned family members or friends to strike a balance between a senior’s right to make independent decisions and intervening to protect them.

Elder protective services are funded through the state and, like many essential services, are suffering in a difficult budget. These appropriations not only cover the costs of investigators statewide, but also an elder abuse hotline, legal expenses, guardianship appointments, and a money management program for elders struggling with daily finances.

Since FY 2009, funding has decreased by $800,000 resulting in many cases being only partially investigated. While the governor’s FY 2012 budget level funds protective services, abuse reports have risen by nearly 29 percent. To address this crisis for our seniors, we have filed legislation that calls call for a comprehensive approach to elder abuse by establishing a commission of experts to analyze the problem in Massachusetts and make recommendations for coordination of services and changes in law if necessary. This special commission will investigate ways to improve our elder protection system by developing prevention methodologies, pro bono resources to assist elders and protective services agencies, and multidisciplinary case review teams.

Senior abuse creates financial, emotional and physical burdens for its elder victims and their loved ones. The more seniors injured, the more government will pay to care for them, and the more difficult it becomes to keep at-risk seniors in the community. By raising public awareness of this growing problem and giving our protective service agencies the resources they need, we can improve the quality of life for seniors in the Commonwealth. Prevention and detection of elder abuse is everyone’s business. Watch out for the seniors you know and report suspected abuse.


If you suspect or witness elder abuse, call the confidential Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275. The Elder Abuse Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week


Blogmaster's note:

Perhaps some of us ought to write the good Senator and explain to him how when the elder financial abuse is reported as in the case of my mother, Clara G.Fernandez and thousands of others documented here,,,,,,,,, and that's when the real abuse starts, the isolation,the drugging, the fleecing, and the eventually euthanasia of the loved ones when the money runs out! Perhaps you can fool the unsuspecting victims into delivering your loved ones into the arms of the wolves who answer to no one and have infinite power to do as they wish, but senator until you fix the underlying cause this type of news can only be expected to get worst...

1 comment:

Steve Lanning said...

Thanks again for the article, Ray,

I am putting this into my 'speech' file when our AAEA gets launched. Perhaps all of us, no matter the elder fraud 'niche', could work on a single cohesive outline for a 10-15 minute talk.

This 'group' way would make sure we bring out the cogent info as to the overall problem at the start and then we can drill down to our advocacy niche (reverse mortgages, conservatorships, etc).

As AAEA will be made of of elder advocates from all the spectrums, we, too, will have our communication issues to get our message out! But get it out we must!
Thanks again, Ray, for all you do to attack the devastation known as elder fraud. We all need to be working in concert.