In 2011, an estimated 3 – 5 million older adults in America were victims of some form of abuse. According to national data, elder abuse occurs primarily in domestic situations, with perpetrators most likely being family members or trusted caregivers. Older adults themselves are unlikely to report abuse. They most often suffer in silence, unable to speak out to a society that does not listen well. It frequently occurs behind closed doors or in front of people who do not want to get involved.
While neglect remains the most common type of elder abuse including self-neglect, financial exploitation has seen a sharp increase and now accounts for approximately 20% of cases reported. An increase in age also increases the likelihood of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Adults 80 years and older are 2 to 3 times more likely to be abused.
Crimes committed by family members and caretakers occur far more frequently than crimes perpetrated by strangers, yet are the least reported and prosecuted. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, only one in 23.5 cases of abuse and neglect are estimated to ever get reported to Adult Protective Services or the police. Only one in 44 cases of financial exploitation are ever reported.
Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state for all citizens. The law says it is our responsibility (KRS 209.030). If you suspect abuse, you are legally required to report it. The State Elder Abuse Hotline can be accessed 24 hours a day and is toll free at 800.752.6200 or visit the state website at chfs.ky.gov. Calls can be made anonymously.