Another viewpoint: Elder abuse awareness is an important cause
Posted June 11, 2015 in Selected Press
Another Viewpoint is a column The News-Herald makes available so all sides of issues may by aired. Brian Rice is the Chair Person for the Community Resource and Advocacy Committee of the Association of Specialists in Aging. He's also a board member for the Lake County Council on Aging, Director /Owner of the Lake-Geauga Office of Griswold Home Care and facilitator for an Alzheimer’s Association support group for those caring for someone with dementia.
Elder abuse is “rampant, largely invisible, expensive and lethal” says Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Services Association.
“It’s a silent epidemic,” said Wendy Patton, a senior project director for Policy Matters Ohio.
“Workers are undertrained, overwhelmed and can barely keep up with the mounting caseloads,” said Bob Blancato, national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition in Washington, D.C.
So why are these experts so concerned about elder abuse?
While the focus should remain on the shattered lives of the victims, it’s also about the numbers, some known, others unknown. AARP reports that 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day in the U.S.
The Alzheimer’s Association predicts the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease will increase dramatically in the coming years. Other relevant numbers include the frequency of elder abuse and the dollars devoted to preventing it.
Older adults are increasingly choosing to receive care in the privacy of their own home. But privacy increases risk of abuse. Reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of people over 60 in Ohio have ranged between 14,000 and 15,000 over the past 5 years.
The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are actually reported. This means the actual number of elder abuse victims in Ohio could be close to 200,000. Numbers are difficult to come by. County agencies that are mandated by law to investigate abuse are not required to report abuse rates at the state level.
Some counties have recently reported zero cases of elder abuse or reported only sporadically. Additionally, the elders being abused are often too afraid to report the abuse.
Another issue working against elder abuse victims in Ohio is lack of funding.
Over the past few years, Ohio has provided only $500,000 to fund Adult Protective Services in 88 counties. A 2014 report by Policy Matters Ohio shows 39 counties in Ohio do not have any staff assigned to Adult Protective Services.
Some counties received federal dollars from Social Services Block Grants (SSBG) but this has been an unreliable source of funding. It was reduced significantly by sequestration and SSBG is often a target when federal legislators are looking for spending cuts.
Policy Matters Ohio reports that Ohio is twice as likely as other states to rely on the unreliable SSBG funding.
There is some good news however. Local State Representatives John Rogers and Ron Young are co-sponsors of the Elder Justice Act (HB 24) which will strengthen existing Adult Protective Service laws and encourage the reporting of elder abuse cases.
Also, Governor Kasich and the Ohio House want to increase APS funding to $3.5 million, hoping that all 88 counties will have at least one part-time case worker devoted strictly to adult protective services.
The Lake County Council on Aging and the Association of Specialists on Aging are hosting a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event at Veteran’s Park in downtown Painesville on June 15 at 2:00 p.m.
Representatives Rogers and Young will be in attendance to speak about the Elder Justice Act. Please join us as we attempt to shine a light on this ‘silent epidemic’.
Original Article: http://www.news-herald.com/opinion/20150611/anothe...