The exact incidence of elder abuse is difficult to determine because this crime is largely unreported. Many experts agree that 4% of elders age 65 and over in this country are abused or neglected at any given time. Depending on the study, only one in five to one in 14 cases is reported to authorities. The majority of abusers are family members.
The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse for the Administration for Children and Families and the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of health and Human Services, estimates that at least one-half million seniors in domestic settings were abused and/or neglected, or experienced self neglect during 1996. The study also found that for every reported incident of elder abuse, neglect or self neglect, approximately five go unreported.
The Select Committee on Aging of the U.S. House of Representatives (in 1981) held extensive hearings on elder abuse. In its follow-up report, the committee concluded that at least 4% of all elders age 65 and over in this country are abused or neglected.
Many researchers who have studied the problem also estimate that approximately four to five percent of elders are abused or neglected each year. With more than 34 million seniors age 65 and over in the United States, 4% means that at least 1.4 million seniors are abused/neglected throughout the country at any given time.
If this figure is applied to Los Angeles County (9.5 million residents, with 11% or 1 million seniors) we come up with a total of approximately 40,000 abused/neglected elders in the county.
In the City of Los Angeles, with 3.7 million residents, the estimate is 16,000 abused or neglected seniors at any given time.
National Research Center on Elder Abuse
A study of 6300 substantiated reports of elder abuse shows:
26.3% Physical abuse
20.0% Financial exploitation
11.0% Emotional abuse
1.6% Sexual abuse
30.0% Adult children perpetrators
17.8% Other relatives
12.8% Service provider
10.0% Friends or neighbors
More than two-thirds of perpetrators are family members.
Elders 80 years and older are abused and neglected at two to three times their proportion of the elderly population.
Female elders are abused at a higher rate than males, after accounting for their larger proportion in the aging population.
An Adult Protective Services survey of cases in Los Angeles County showed the types of abuse to be evenly distributed:
26% Fiduciary abuse
25% Psychological abuse
21% Physical abuse
However, research indicated that many abuse victims were subject to multiple types of abuse, such as a combination of physical and psychological abuse, or a combination of fiduciary abuse and neglect.
Reporting Elder Abuse
Abused seniors and dependent adults are silent victims. They usually are unable to report the abuse. Unlike abused children who may be discovered through the school system, abused seniors can remain isolated for extended periods of time. If you know or suspect that a senior is being abused or severely neglected … YOU are his or her lifeline.
Reporting abuse or neglect of an elder or dependent adult in Los Angeles County can be confusing since several agencies have jurisdiction:
Outside of a nursing home or residential care facility:
In a Nursing Home:
The licensing agency is the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Health Facilities Division who also investigates. The fact that a violation or citation was issued becomes part of the public record of the facility. You can check this record on the Internet.
In a Residential Care facility:
The licensing agency is the Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing who also investigates. The fact that a violation or citation was issued becomes part of the public record of the facility.