Deficiencies in Elder Abuse Services

Though there are some great studies and programs that are emerging for the prevention and detection of elder mistreatment, elder abuse and neglect is often looked over in many other ways. In many ways, the information on elder abuse is at a standstill, while the elder population continues to rapidly expand, and elder abuse unfortunately increases. In this post, I will talk about some of the elder mistreatment programs that exist and what is being done to provide elder abuse services.

Issues with Treating Elder Abuse

The Adult Protective Services is the front line responder for elder abuse. Unfortunately, they do not have a federal office or federal standards, oversight, training, data collection, or reliable funding. The National Institute on Aging spent only 1/1,000th of its annual budget on elder abuse research, even though they lead the federal effort on aging research! Lastly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year spent just less than one percent on researching elder abuse issues.

The Office on Violence against Women spends only one percent of its annual funds on elders, even though elders make up about 20% of the adult population. Elderly adults are very rarely served by domestic violence programs, even though they are among the most vulnerable groups in the adult population.

Within the Department of Justice, there is no Office for Elder Justice, though there are offices for virtually every other category of crime. There is only an Elder Justice Initiative, which was informerly established with a $1 million dollar budget. Contrast this with the formal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which is well staffed and has a $400 million dollar budget and an assured policy and program developed.

Also lacking is the level of prosecuted offenders of elder abuse and neglect. Because elder abuse and neglect is also a federal, state, or local crime, offenders must be prosecuted, yet elder abuse is very rarely recognized or prosecuted as a crime or even as a civil offense. Therefore, elder abuse is not only a health issue for our elderly citizens, but affects the entire dynamic of society and the justice system.

New Tools

In January, 2019, Yale hosted an event for the Department of Emergency Medicine that raised awareness on elder abuse and neglect. VOICES is a new tool that is going to be used to screen for elder abuse and will make it easier for victims to report the abuse. The VOICES tool is a virtually guided decision making tool that can be used to screen elder abuse. The program will use virtual coaching and interactive multimedia libraries like video clips to promote disclosure of abuse. This is a step in the right direction, but as you can see, there are many issues with offering resources for those who face elder abuse.

As you can see, it can be difficult to get justice for your family if an elderly loved one experiences neglect or abuse. You need a strong advocate on your side to fight through the issues with elder abuse services. I will be that advocate for your family. If you need help with an elder abuse situation, contact my office. I am happy to help.

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