Letter To The Editor: More Funding Needed For Protecting Elders From Abuse
State Rep. Thomas Stanley proposed additional funding.
The following is a letter to the editor from one of Waltham's state representatives, Democrat Thomas Stanley.
In Massachusetts, the legislature continues to work on initiatives to help improve the quality of life for our elders. I recently co-signed a letter with my House colleagues to House Speaker Robert DeLeo requesting increased funding for elder protective services in the upcoming fiscal year 2012 budget. This important funding will help prevent the rising problem of elder abuse.
What is elder abuse? Elder abuse can include physical violence against seniors, financial exploitation by scam artists, mental abuse at the hands of family and caregivers and cases of self-neglect (when an elder is unable to care for his or her basic needs and thus demonstrates a level of poor judgment). Elder abuse causes physical and emotional distress and reduces seniors’ abilities to live without risk in the community.
The statistics surrounding elder abuse are alarming. Every day in this state, 54 reports of elder abuse and neglect are filed. Yet, these are only the reports we know about. One recent study from Cornell University’s Weill Medical College estimates that for every one report filed, another 24 reports go unreported.
When elder protective services were first created in fiscal year 1984, a total of 1,529 reports of abuse were investigated. In 2011, abuse reports are projected to reach 19,554. This horrific figure means that every hour of every day, another two reports of elder abuse are filed in the Commonwealth.
Despite the dramatic rise in elder abuse reports, funding for protective services has decreased. Investing in protective services funding will not only enhance the quality of life for our elders but will also help them live independently in the community, and in some cases keep them out of nursing homes.