As baby boomers enter the last quarter of their lives, the single largest and wealthiest population group in US history officially enters old age. With old age comes illness, infirmity, and cognitive impairment. Another thing creeping up on baby boomer is elder abuse. This includes all forms of abuse — physical, emotional, and financial.
Report Finds Failures in Elder Abuse Investigations
A recent report by the Pennsylvania Office of the State Inspector General has delivered sharp criticism of how agencies at the county level handle thousands of complaints about elder abuse and how the state supervises investigations into these complaints. It is the state’s duty to ensure that such investigations are reasonable and thorough.
According to the report, some county agencies exhibited failures to investigate complaints elder abuse under timelines mandated by the state of Pennsylvania. State offices charged with monitoring the county agencies were also found to be lacking adequate staff in order to execute their responsibilities.
Lack of Standardized Elder Abuse Investigative Practices in PA County Agencies
The state watchdog agency also reported that investigative practices across counties are not standardized or implemented consistently across counties. Shortcomings in training, staffing, and supervision were pointed out.
Most alarmingly, the number of complaints of elder physical abuse, neglect, and/or financial exploitation has been growing rapidly. The report indicates that if the state does not act quickly and decisively, the problem may reach scandalous proportions.
The Pennsylvania governor’s administration, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, has pledged to address its vigorously to the report’s findings, but defended itself and its agencies, saying that they have made “significant improvements” recently.
How to Prevent Elder Abuse
While not all instances of elder abuse are preventable, one of the best and most practical ways to protect older loved ones from physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse at the hands of family members and caretakers is simply to visit them often. The most presence and attention we can give to our loved ones, the less likely they are to be preyed upon by opportunistic or abusive parties. This solution, we know, is simple but not easy, since spending time with the aging can be very difficult. In our experience, however, not only can such time save lives and fortunes, but with a little creativity and care, it can be its own reward.