Elder abuse affects communities on many levels, from pubic health to civic participation to economic resources. For our communities to thrive, we need everyone in them to thrive too. Contrary to popular belief, elder abuse is a significant problem. Tennessee Adult Protective Services (APS), the investigative state agency, received close to 2,000 referrals for elder abuse in 2012 for just Shelby County, Tennessee – 30% are substantiated cases. However, elder abuse is underreported.
The costs of elder abuse are high for the affected individuals and society alike. Older people’s losses can be tangible (their homes and life savings) and intangible (their dignity, independence, and possibly their lives). For society, elder abuse is both a social and economic issue: it creates health care and legal costs, which are often shouldered by public programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and reduces older people’s participation in the life of the community. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s interest to prevent and address elder abuse.