There is a terrible tragedy of elder abuse that is occurring in silence the U.S.A. every day and the victims ordinary senior citizens are often physically and emotionally abused or financially exploited. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, as of July 1, 2004, 12 percent of all Americans were 65 and over. By 2050, people 65 and over will comprise an impressive 21 percent of the U.S. population.
The terrible secret is that according to Department of Health and Human Services estimates between 500,000 and 5 million seniors in our country are abused, neglected, or exploited. It is a sad fact that most victim of elder abuse remain silent about their victimization or do not know how to report.
The Senate is considering an Elder Justice Act. It would boost federal aid for identifying and investigating elder abuse at the state and local levels, require long-term care providers to report possible crimes to federal authorities and create new oversight within the Department of Health and Human Services for coordinating state and federal anti-abuse efforts. This bill has gained broad support in and out of Congress, with more than 500 advocacy groups supporting the legislation so it is hoped that at least some of the measures appear to have good prospects for being enacted into law.
According to a study for the National Institute of Justice, there are approximately 11% of people ages 60 and older suffer from some kind of abuse every year. In addition other studies show that elderly victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation have twice the risk of dying within a year.
The Elder Justice Act of 2005 which was now finally passed into law will hopefully:
Fund research on comprehensive approaches to abuse detection and prevention;
Promote coordination of federal, state and local efforts through the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice;
Support efforts to enhance capacity to discover and hold abusers and other violators accountable;
Provide for long term care staff training and preventive security measures to protect individuals receiving long-term care, including the establishment of a national nurse aide registry and national criminal background checks; and
Authorize funds for training and to establish a clearinghouse to empower professionals, researchers and consumers in finding solutions to elder abuse.