As the Baby Boomer generation moves into their retirement years, the number of older Americans continues to increase at a historic rate. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau expects the population aged 65 and older to nearly double from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million in 2050. For the first time in history, the number of older adults (age 65 and older) is expected to outnumber their younger counterparts (age 21 and younger) that same year. With the increase in seniors, we are also experiencing a corresponding increase in elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The individual states are scrambling to initiate procedures and enact laws to combat the problem of elder abuse in the U.S. A recent study takes a look at how those states are doing with the State of Indiana ranking in the middle of the pack for elder abuse protection.
Elder Abuse Facts and Figures
To get an idea of how serious the elder abuse, neglect and exploitation problem is, considering the following facts and figures:
- Experts believe more than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reports, as many as 14 go unreported.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients
The Wallet Hub Study
To get an idea of how the states are faring in their efforts to prevent elder abuse, Wallet Hub conducted a study. The study compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 14 key indicators of elder-abuse protection in three overall categories – prevalence, resources, and protection. They then evaluated these dimensions using 14 relevant metrics. Each metric was scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.” The results were compiled into an overall ranking for elder abuse protection. Individual sub-category rankings were also provided for the top five and bottom five in each sub-category. The 14 metrics used in the study are as follows:
- Prevalence – Total 40 Points
- Share of Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints
- Resources – Total 30 Points
- Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Expenditures on Legal-Assistance Development per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Protection – Total 30 Points
- Financial Elderly-Abuse Laws
- Eldercare Organizations & Services per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Forensic Centers
- Presence of Elder Abuse Working Groups
- Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Frequency of Assisted-Living Facilities Inspections
- Quality of Nursing Homes
- Presence of Laws Allowing Surveillance Cams in Nursing Homes
- Presence of Elder Justice Task Forces
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Shelters
How Did Indiana Compare?
Indiana ranked 27th overall with a composite score of 46.41 out of 100. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts garnered the first place spot in the WalletHub study with an impressive overall score of 63.68 out of 100, followed by Wisconsin with 60.66 and Nevada with a score of 59.57. Coming in at the bottom of the list were New Jersey, Wyoming, and South Carolina with scores of 19.10, 17.57, and 15.49 respectively. Indiana actually scored well in the Prevalence category, ranking 9th in the nation; however, Indiana ranked 49th and 46th in the Resources and Protection categories. Indiana also ranked low (48th) in the sub-category for “Lowest Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding.”
If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of elder abuse, it is imperative that you speak up and act on your suspicions. Many elderly victims are reluctant to admit that they are a victim, either because they are embarrassed or because they fear retribution from the abuser on whom they may remain dependent. Consult with an experienced elder law attorney about your legal options.
Contact Indiana Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns about elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation in Indiana, contact the experienced Indiana elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.