Seniors have done their time—in the most positive way. They have led careers, parented children, and built the country we know today. They have served in our modern wars with the courage and tenacity to beat back determined enemies. They deserve a time in their lives to do whatever they want, whether it’s pursing a second career, another education, or a hobby, or just kicking back.
Unfortunately, many seniors find that their later years aren’t always easy. According to the United States General Accounting Office, more than 43 percent of all Americans more than 65 years of age will be cared for in nursing homes for some period in their later years. While many will reside in excellent facilities and be treated with the best possible care, others won’t be as lucky. The same is true of those who will be cared for at home.
Elder abuse is becoming a prominent topic as the Baby Boomer generation ages. While figures are hard to come by, those provided in the early 2000s by the U.S. Congress Committee on Government Reform provide some insight. In 2001, for example, this committee reported that all 27 of the nursing homes in the 22nd Congressional District (Santa Barbara, CA) violated federal health and safety standards. Other figures are just as alarming. These and other data appear on the California State Government’s website.
Elder abuse isn’t always easy to recognize or prove. Crime prevention practitioners and law enforcement officers called in to investigate elder abuse cases have their work cut out for them. Caregivers at home or in nursing facilities may try to cover up the abuse. And the patient may not want to discuss the problem out of embarrassment or shame. But there are tell-tale signs of elder abuse that can help them identity abusive situations.
In addition, some agencies are now offering courses in how to deal with elder abuse. The Office for Victims of Crime at the U.S. Department of Justice is one of them. Its Training and Technical Assistance Center is offering a course from November 18 – 19, 2009, called Identifying and Responding to Elder Abuse. According to the flier for the course, participants will learn to
- Recognize the signs of elder abuse and its impact on victims
- Identify the types of elder abuse
- Recognize the risk factors that may be encountered in various situations
- Respond proactively to situations in which elder abuse is suspected
- Identify how to obtain additional information and relevant statutes
This is a topic worthy of attention by all of us. Our seniors deserve the best we can give them.