California: 2020’s State with the 3rd Worst Elder Abuse Protections

The coronavirus pandemic, which already disproportionately impacts older people, is leaving older populations extra vulnerable to elder abuse and neglect, which includes abandonment and abuse financially, emotionally, sexually and physically.

Duke Han, who researches ill-treatment of the elderly at the University of Southern California, noted a “massive increase in reports of elder abuse during the pandemic,” in a paper released in April — based on anecdotal reports of surges. He describes this uptick as unsurprising.

The National Center on Elder Abuse says social isolation is one of the greatest risk factors for mistreatment and since it is reported far and wide, the coronavirus pandemic is a breeding ground for social isolation.

“We also know that the pandemic has created greater dependency of older adults on others, which might be exploited by abusers,” Han says.

The nationwide economic downturn, too, can incentivize abusers to target older people who, in many families, have resources saved or receive Social Security income.

Though hard statistics don’t yet exist in the United States, Canada has reported a tenfold increase in ill-treatment of the elderly, and the international advocacy nonprofit HelpAge cited a rise worldwide in places like Nepal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jordan and Kyrgystan.

With as many as 13 out of every 14 elder-abuse cases going unreported and seniors especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2020’s States with the Best Elder-Abuse Protections, as well as accompanying videos.

To determine which states fight the hardest against elder abuse, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 16 key metrics. The data set ranges from “elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints” to “financial elder-abuse laws.”

Elder-Abuse Protections in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 49th – Gross-Neglect & Exploitation Complaints*
  • 15th – Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention*
  • 29th – Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman-Program Funding*
  • 43rd – Number of Eldercare Organizations & Services*
  • 22nd – Number of Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen*
  • 15th – Nursing-Homes Quality

*Per resident aged 65+

Mistreatment happens every day and takes many forms. But vulnerable older Americans are among the easiest targets for this misconduct, especially those who are women, have disabilities and rely on others for care. By one estimate, elder abuse affects as much as ten percent of the population older than 60, and many cases go unreported – as many as 13 of every 14 instances.

Unless states take action to prevent further abuse, the problem will grow as America becomes an increasingly aging nation, according to Adam McCann of WalletHub. The U.S. Census Bureau expects the population aged 65 and older to nearly double from 43.1 million in 2012 to 85.7 million in 2050, much to the credit of aging Baby Boomers who began turning 65 in 2011. And by just 2030, 1 in 5 U.S. residents will be retirement age.

For the full report, please click here.

Image Sources

  • Elder-abuse: Shutterstock