Elder Abuse, Use of Shelters Rising

Posted by GWEN
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Posted on February 01, 2013

The 74 million baby boomers born in 1946-1964 will double the number of
Americans age 65 and older by 2030. The combination of this demographic’ s large
and growing population and the fact people are living longer means the number of
seniors being abused, neglected or exploited is growing exponentially. The situation
is compounded by statistics pulled from a recent article in The Daily Journal stating
some research indicates one in 10 seniors have suffered some form of abuse at least
once.

To meet the growing challenges, shelters, such as the Shalom Center in a northern
Cincinnati suburb, have started to provide shelter, along with medical, psychological
and legal help for elder abuse victims. The Shalom Center is among a handful in
the country addressing issues that will only continue to grow with the age of the
nation’s population.

One woman in her 70s living at the Shalom Center was previously lived with a close
family member. Unbeknownst to her, that family member syphoned her money
by overcharging for groceries and she suffered physical and emotional torment,
sapping her spirit and strength. “She just yelled at me all the time. Screamed at me,
cussed me out,” the woman says of a family member. “I don’t know what happened.
She just got tired of me I guess.”

Collecting data on the number of senior abuses is difficult given the majority of
cases go unreported out of embarrassment, fear of being cut off from family or
confusion about what has happened. While the Obama administration has said it
has increased its focus on protecting American seniors by establishing a national
resource center and a consumer protection office, among other steps, the reality is
that social services budgets are being cut and funds for areas such as elder abuse
investigation have been slashed.

On a state basis, however, some progress is being made. New York City started its
Elder Abuse Center in 2009 to bring a multi-organization approach to the problem,
saying nearly 100,000 older people are abused in their homes in the city alone. The
Weinberg Center, also in New York, provides short-term emergency shelter for
victims of elder abuse aged 60 and older, and helps other communities replicate it.
It has assisted shelter startups in upstate New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and
Minnesota along with the Shalom Center in Ohio.

“Are these older people going to be allowed to live their lives the way they deserve
to?” said Carol Silver Elliott, CEO of the Cedar Village retirement community, of
which the Shalom Center is a part. “We really are not addressing it as a society the
way we should.”

Source: The Daily Journal, January 31, 2013, http://www.smdailyjournal.com/
article_preview.php?