According to a study completed in 2010, approximately 5 million Americans in New Mexico and other parts of the nation are victimized by elder abuse each year. This elder abuse results in approximately $5 billion in extra medical expenditures to treat the victims’ injuries. Further, those who suffer from this kind of abuse have triple the chance of being hospitalized and quadruple the chance of being put in a nursing home.
At its most extreme, family members have been known to allow their elder relatives to suffer with enduring medical conditions and die, while they steal their credit cards and take control of their Social Security checks and bank accounts. In other cases, nursing home staff have sexually abused residents or stolen their medication. Sometimes, the abuse is so horrible that it leads to death. Still, we do not know the best way to identify specific instances of abuse and how to eradicate it. Indeed, in comparison to domestic abuse and child abuse, we do not have a lot of tools available for combatting this horrible reality that so many must endure.
Last March, the presidential administration petitioned Congress to finance the Elder Justice Act with $25 million. The Elder Justice Act was enacted into law in 2010, but at this time it is still powerless because it has not received funding. If the current request for funding is granted, however, money would be directed toward research on how to detect elder abuse, resolve it when it is found and how to prevent it. For this reason, the American Bar Association and other anti-elder abuse advocates are asking that the request for $25 million in funding for the Elder Justice Act be approved.
No New Mexico resident should ever have to live through an experience of elder abuse. Nevertheless, cases of elder abuse do happen in this state and other areas of the nation on a regular basis. Those who have suffered injury — whether it is permanent or minor and whether it is physical or financial — may wish to investigate the strength of a case for damages relating to those injuries. Also, family members of individuals who may have died as a result of elder abuse may wish to pursue a wrongful death action against the party responsible.
Source: centralmaine.com, “Congress should fund Elder Abuse Act“, James R. Silkenat, July 23, 2014