Elder abuse is a growing problem that often is often undetectable and unreported. The Green Bay Press Gazette investigates.
Ads that spread awareness of abuse typically depict young people struggling in abusive romantic relationships, or a child hiding from a harmful parent, but growing numbers indicate that the elderly are also at risk, reports The Green Bay Press Gazette.
Elder abuse is a “grossly under-reported” type of mistreatment, according to Anni Lampert, a domestic violence advocate with HELP of Door County.
The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life calls it a “hidden, yet growing, problem.”
Scrapes and bruises are noticeable, but like abuse in general, more indicators often lie beneath the surface — older people may face emotional, psychological or financial abuse.
The U.S. Department of Justice has identified elder abuse as an issue that will become more prevalent as baby boomers age.
That concern led to creation of the Abuse in Later Life Grant Program, administered by the Office on Violence Against Women.
Door County and three other regions, ranging from rural to urban, received grants to help Wisconsin develop ways to build these connections, with the hope that what they learn can be adopted statewide.
Self-neglect is a quiet, yet common, type of elder abuse — and one that is not considered a crime. That could be why elder abuse is under-reported and infrequently discussed.
“It’s about shame,” said Carol Lenius, a social worker with the county’s adult protective services group. “Our elders are still of the ‘we take care of our own’ kind of mentalities.”
Lampert added she often hears those who visit HELP say: “I’m the one who helps other people, I don’t get help.”
Read more about this growing problem here.