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Looking Out for Elder Abuse

Last update on: Mar 15 2020

Elder abuse always has been a problem in the U.S., but a largely hidden problem. Most victims are believed not to report to anyone what happened, and governments don’t devote many resources to uncovering and dealing with the issue. But that’s changing as the population ages. More resources are being devoted to the problem, and we’re helping to make people aware of the problem, how to spot it, and that victims shouldn’t hesitate to report abuse. This post summarizes the problem, some innovative steps to deal with it, and highlights some elderly who were abused. The most important thing is for people to set up protections and systems before they’re in a position where someone could abuse them.

The price for not getting ahead of the problem and preventing abuse of people who would otherwise be healthy and financially stable will be high, warned Joy Solomon, a former Manhattan assistant prosecutor who helped pioneer elder abuse shelters with the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention, which opened in 2005 at the Hebrew Home community in New York City.

“My argument always is, if all you do is come in when the crisis has occurred, it is much more costly than preventative care,” said Solomon, director of the shelter, which takes in about 15 people a year. “We’re going to have to pay for it anyway.”

She and others in the field say the first steps are to raise public awareness and train police, lawyers, criminal justice officials and others to recognize and respond to signs of abuse.



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