Elder abuse and neglect is something we should all be concerned about given the fact that we will all (hopefully) be among the elderly ourselves one day. Although elder abuse is not something new, it has only gained national attention in recent years, due in large part to the dramatic increase in the senior population. Lawmakers across the country are wrestling with how best to confront the issue of elder abuse and neglect. In Connecticut, a proposal to create an elder abuse registry recently passed committee and is now headed for debate and a vote by the State Senate and House of Representatives.
The Proposed Elder Abuse Registry
State Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) recently announced the unanimous passage by the Aging committee of a proposal to better promote the protection of the elder population and those with disabilities in Connecticut. According to news reports, Rep. Kupchick, who proposed a similar bill (5954) to establish an Elder Abuse Registry submitted testimony in favor of the bill to the legislature’s Aging committee on behalf of the Fairfield Senior Advocates (FSA). The FSA is a volunteer, non-partisan organization based in Fairfield, CT that is dedicated to supporting senior citizens within the State. The legislation, S.B. 832, known as “An Act Concerning Registries of Persons Found Responsible for Assaults or Other Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation or Abandonment of Elderly Persons or Persons with Disabilities” would enforce the creation of a public registry which will secure the protection of elderly or disabled individuals from persons convicted of assaults, neglect exploitation, abandonment, and other abuse. Rep. Kupchick said, “Families deserve the peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving the best possible care at senior facilities and nursing homes. It is morally imperative to protect our parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and neighbors just as we strive to protect children from sexual predators.”
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association’s March 2018 national report, twenty-six states are currently using abuse registries. Kentucky signed a bill into law in 2014 which created a registry to identify certain caregivers who had been involved in abuse cases substantiated by the Adult Protective Branch within the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. This law requires providers, such as adult day health care program centers, adult day training facilities, assisted-living communities, home health agencies, hospice programs, and long-term care facilities, to query, by secure means, as to whether a prospective employee, contractor, or volunteer had been the subject of a validated finding of adult abuse. The bill will now move on to the State Senate and House of Representatives for debate and eventually a vote.
Elder Abuse Facts and Figures
As the population of older Americans continues to grow at a historic rate, the issues that concern them are gaining more attention. Sadly, elder abuse and neglect is at the top of that list. Accurate figures are difficult to come by for several reasons, including the fact that victims of elder abuse or neglect are often too embarrassed to come forward and tell their stories. Other victims fear reprisals by the abusers on which they frequently remain dependent for everything from transportation to housing and medical care. Nevertheless, experts offer the following conservative estimates:
- More than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reports, as many as 14 go unreported.
- 1 in 20 older adults indicate some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past
- Only 30 percent of victims of elder sexual abuse report it to authorities
- In almost 60 percent of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
- More than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90 percent report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- The most recent studies indicate that 7-10 percent of the elderly suffered from at least one episode of abuse within the past year.
These figures are shocking to the average person, as well they should be. If you have an elderly loved one, vigilance is the key to protecting them from abuse. If you suspect that an elderly loved one is a victim of elder abuse, contact an elder law attorney right away to discuss your legal options.
Contact Westport Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder abuse, or elder law in general, contact the experienced Westport elder law attorneys at Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. by calling (860) 548-1000 to schedule an appointment.