By Rick Banas of BMA Management, Ltd.
Most of us would probably jump to the same conclusion if we were to learn that one of our parents was running out of their pills faster than they should. Dad, or Mom, is the problem. He, or she, is forgetting that he took his medications and taking them again before he should.
This is what we assumed when my Dad’s doctor discovered this problem, Jennifer Barbour of Christian HomeCare Services, Inc., told those in attendance at the community health education program that she was conducting on Elder Abuse. The program was held at the Cambridge House affordable assisted living community that BMA manages in Swansea, Illinois.
Turns out Dad was not the problem. A family member was stealing the medications.
Elder abuse is a national problem that often goes unreported, Jennifer said. The United States Department of Justice estimates that a minimum of one in nine adults age 65 or older have experienced some form of abuse in the past year and that only one in six cases of abuse are reported.
Many people only think of physical abuse, said Jennifer. Other types of abuse include financial exploitation; passive neglect; emotional and sexual abuse; and willful denial of medications, food, shelter and medical care.
One attendee talked about how one of his children took him for about $250,000. Jennifer mentioned a caregiver who was over medicating an older adult so the older adult would sleep all the time. While he was sleeping, the caregiver was using his credit cards to make purchases on the Home Shopping Network.
One of the reasons so many cases of abuse go unreported is that family members are responsible for nearly 90% of the abuse. Victims choose not to press charges because they are embarrassed or they don’t want to get their child or grandchild in trouble.
We need to Break the Silence about Elder Abuse and talk about it because the abuse has consequences, Jennifer said. The financial impact of elder abuse is significant, with the Department of Justice estimating the loss at $2.6 billion a year.
Much more importantly, elder abuse causes loss of dignity and abused elders are most likely to live shorter lives.
Suspected cases of elder abuse need to be reported, Jennifer said.
You can learn more about Elder Abuse by watching the “An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America” video that Jennifer showed during her presentation. The video was developed by the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Click here to watch the video.
More Information is available on the Illinois Department on Aging website. Click here to read.
You can also visit the National Center of Elder Abuse (NCEA) to continue to learn more about how you can identify and help older adults that are being abused.
The Department on Aging operates a 24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-866-800-1409. All reports are kept confidential, and anonymous reports are accepted.
Cambridge House of Swansea is an affordable assisted living community managed by BMA Management. The community is located in Swansea, Illinois, and is one of three Cambridge House communities in the Metro East area of St. Louis. The communities are designed to serve adults 65 and older of all incomes who need some help to maintain their independence.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.
“BMA Management, Ltd. is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”
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