Updated Fri, May 16, 2014 5:49 pm
Ohio’s elderly are vastly unprotected and underserved, according to a public policy group’s latest report. They want the state legislature to pass a bill that would help prevent elder abuse and neglect.
Policy Matters Ohio said the number of state residents aged 60 or more will exceed 2.5 million by 2015.
But adult protective services in many counties are far short of adequate staffing and resources.
Researcher Wendy Patton said because of this, mistreatment, abuse, and neglect of the elderly continues unaddressed, causing what she calls the “silent epidemic.”
“Our elders," Patton said. "Sometimes they lack the capacity to report, they may have dementia, or Alzheimer’s. They can’t report! They may be embarrassed to report, or ashamed. Or they may fear retaliation from people they are dependent on.”
Patton said 15,000 cases of abuse are reported in Ohio each year, but estimates that number could reach 10 times that - or more - when unreported incidents are factored in.
Policy Matters said the $10 million for adult protection services – contained in an appropriation bill working its way through the legislature - would be a start.
"We need between $11.7 million and $30.2 million just for caseworkers alone to address the problem,” Patton said.
Meanwhile, the state Attorney General’s Office has announced its own Elder Justice Initiative, which aims to boost the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases across Ohio.