The elderly are one of the top groups targeted for abuse, whether that abuse is physical, mental, or financial. Many of the victims of elder abuse never get the justice they deserve because they are afraid to report it, they are not believed, or they simply don’t know where to turn for help.
Many states recognize elder abuse as a significant problem and have taken steps to prevent abuse and give seniors recourse when they are abused. While legislation can go a long way towards reducing elder abuse, it is still a tremendous problem. A study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted in 2021 estimates that as much as 10% of Americans over 60 are subject to elder abuse, and it is worth noting that many cases go unreported, so that number could actually be much higher.
Elder abuse also seems to have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The same study showed that financial losses from elder abuse in 2021 totaled $1.7 billion, a 74% increase from the previous year. If we hope to protect vulnerable seniors, more work will need to be done, and many states, including Pennsylvania, are taking the lead in this fight. Here are some select insights from a 2021 study conducted by the personal finance website WalletHub that sheds some light on the states with the best elder abuse protections
Elder Abuse Study Methodology
WalletHub’s study weighed a number of factors in determining their ranking for the states with the best elder abuse protections. Some of those factors include:
- Number of Elder Abuse, Gross Neglect, and Exploitation Complaints
- Total Expenditure on Elder Abuse Prevention
- Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding
- Number of Elder Care Organizations and Services
- Number of Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen
- Nursing Home Quality
Each of these factors was evaluated, weighted against the others, and divided among the elderly population of each state and the District of Columbia to determine which ones provided the best protection for older people.
Elder Abuse Study Findings for Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania ranked 14th overall in this study, placing it among some of the top states in the country. PA also ranked 3rd for the lowest number of abuse complaints, a good sign for seniors here. While Pennsylvania scored well, more work could be done to reduce elder abuse.
WalletHub also interviewed a panel of experts to find out what we can do to protect our elderly loved ones from being abused. Each of the six experts interviewed highlighted regular communication as the most important aspect of elder abuse prevention. Some also suggested having serious conversations with loved ones about legal protections that can prevent them from being abused, especially financially. Some suggested talking to your loved ones about designating powers of attorney in order to prevent an elderly family member from making ruinous financial decisions, especially if they are living with cognitive decline.
The results of WalletHub’s study are encouraging because they show that state officials are prioritizing the safety of elderly people. Of course, they can only do so much. If you want to protect your loved ones, it’s up to you to take the initiative. Visit regularly with your elderly loved ones. Talk to them about how they are doing and how they are being treated by other people in their lives. You can be their voice and their advocate, and that is an important responsibility.
There are also some legal steps you can take to protect senior family members. If you don’t know where to start, we suggest speaking with estate planning lawyers serving Lansdale, PA, or in your area.
At Slutsky Elder Law, we have spent decades advocating for the rights of elderly Pennsylvanians and helping them plan for the future. Contact our team today by calling (610) 940-0650 or by filling out the form on our contact page to request a consultation. Together, we can protect your elderly loved ones from abuse and continue to advocate for change in our communities that will keep them safe.