The growing problem of elder abuse needs to be a national priority, especially as the nation prepares for a rapidly rising tide of seniors, said Senator Herb Kohl, the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, to the Department of Justice in a letter.
At a recent hearing on elder abuse and financial exploitation, the Senate Committee heard “heart-wrenching” stories of physical, emotional, and sexual and financial abuse of seniors; the Government Accountability Office reported more than 14% of seniors living outside of nursing homes or other senior facilities as having been injured, exploited, or mistreated by someone whom they depend upon for care.
“Sadly, elder abuse often goes unreported so the true number of victims is likely much higher,” said Kohl in the letter, addressed to Joye Frost, the Acting Director of the Department of Justice. “The elderly population of the United States is expected to increase by 60% over the next 25 years, meaning that this problem will only grow and more and more elderly victims will suffer in silence.”
The senator also highlights the tremendous costs to the nation incurred by financial exploitation of elders, at an estimated $2.6 billion annually.
“The plight of vulnerable seniors must be a subject of great concern to us all,” the letter reads. “However, it does not get the attention it deserves.”
Kohl pointed out that the Crime Victim Fund, which is administered by the Department of Justice and provides grants to states for crime victim assistance programs, overlooks elder abuse victims “more often than not,” prompting him to ask a series of questions regarding the DOJ’s plans and commitment to making elder abuse prevention a priority.
Written by Alyssa Gerace