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Some older adults are unwilling or hesitant to report because they believe abuse is a family matter, or that the objectionable behavior isn’t really abuse. They may fear reporting will make the situation worse.

They may even love the abuser and don’t want them to get into trouble. Studies suggest more than US.3 billion is spent annually on medical care related to injuries incurred by older adults as a result of violent crime.

While the Centers for Disease Control called for standardized nationwide elder abuse surveillance in 2016, and standard definitions exist, elder abuse is still treated as a state problem with each state having its own definitions and reporting systems.

Adult Protective Services, federally funded by the Administration on Aging but state-administered to investigate allegation of elder mistreatment, instituted the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS).

The topic not only raises concerns about older adults we love, but also raises uncomfortable feelings about people we might trust and maybe even our own possible fate.

We also are concerned because of the growing aging population.

Elder abuse involves intentional or unintentional acts that result in physical, emotional or financial harm to an individual who is 65 years or older.

In the Western world, one could make the case elder abuse was brought to public awareness in 1608 with the publication of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” The play is plotted around the mistreatment of an elderly nobleman by his two daughters. Stories about elder abuse, including one in April 2018, involving a 70-year-old woman who was kept in a dog kennel and tortured by a family member, are not uncommon.

Every year older adults lose .5 billion to exploitation, stranger fraud or violations of trust from family, friends and paid caregivers. Because the victims are usually socially isolated, no one is present to observe the perpetrator’s behavior.At the National Domestic Violence Hotline, our highly trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to talk confidentially with anyone in the United States who is experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.The Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to empower victims and survivors to find safety and live free of abuse.About 16% of older adults are victims of some form of mistreatment and the number of reported cases of elder abuse is steadily increasing.Because of poor record-keeping, however, those of us who study elder abuse don’t know if the trend reflects an actual increase, an increase because of growing numbers of older adults, or only an increase in reporting due to greater awareness.

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