Government plan calls for increased surveillance, prosecution to combat elder abuse

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Elder abuse is inflicted upon many of the more than 2 million Americans in long-term care settings, and more oversight is needed, according to a government report published Wednesday.

“The Elder Justice Roadmap” defines elder abuse as any “physical, sexual and psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment and financial exploitation, is defined as elder abuse.”

Most adverse events in nursing homes are largely due to inadequate treatment, care and staffing — leading to a 22% increase in unnecessary hospitalizations and costing Medicare $2.8 billion, the report stated. 
 
To form a plan on how to combat elder abuse in long-term care facilities, as well as in all senior residential settings, 750 practitioners and leading experts were asked to complete the following sentence: “To understand, prevent, identify or respond to elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, we need…”

The following top five priorities were identified:

  1. Increase public awareness of elder abuse

  2. Conduct further research on mental health and cognitive capacity issues 

  3. Provide better training and support for caregivers

  4. Quantify costs of elder abuse

  5. Invest more resources in services

In addition to these priorities, the government initiative calls for stronger monitoring of services, policies and oversight through survey, licensing agencies and the development of law enforcement and prosecution units that specialize in elder abuse.

The initiative was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice with support from the Department of Health and Human Services. In further support of the initiative's mission, the DOJ created an interactive, online curriculum for attorneys and the HHS developed a voluntary national adult protective services data system, DOJ announced Wednesday.

To access the full report, click here

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