Saturday, March 12, 2011

Preventing Elder Abuse

From The Lancet:

Experts told the Committee that the prevalence of elder abuse in the community is around 14% in the USA but that this figure is likely to be an underestimation. For example, a new prevalence study showed that for every elder abuse victim in New York State who makes it into an official reporting system, another 23—24 go undetected. The Committee also heard that abuse and neglect of older adults may not only be at the hands of family members and staff in nursing homes, but that fellow residents can also be perpetrators.
Meanwhile, a new report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), released to coincide with the Senate Committee hearing, concluded that many state Adult Protection Service programmes responsible for addressing elder abuse have struggled to keep pace with increasing caseloads because of a decrease in funding and lack of federal leadership. The GAO called for better governmental guidance for these protection services.
Despite these shortcomings, the USA still leads in the development of protection services for adults, which are akin to the child protection services in many countries. It could go further. For example, the appointment of an elder abuse csar in government could help address the lack of federal leadership highlighted in the GAO report. Internationally, the USA should champion a newUN Declaration on the Rights of Older People, which has been suggested by non-governmental organisations and global networks for the prevention of elder abuse. There could be much to gain in the prevention of elder abuse by mirroring measures to protect children. Older people have the right to live in safe environments too.

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