Elder Abuse Reports Continue to Rise as Pandemic Surges Across the Country

January 9, 2022

A Growing Issue

The new year has begun, but we are still facing the same hurdles we were hoping to overcome in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the country and has left an impact on us as individuals, the industries we work in, and the ones we love. Vulnerable populations, like older individuals, have become increasingly at risk, not only due to COVID-19 infections, but to mistreatment and abuse.

A current article by Clare Ansberry in The Wall Street Journal highlights the negative impacts the pandemic has inflicted on our aging population, their care, and the patterns of elder abuse. There has been a spike in elder abuse across the country, as a result of the pandemic, with an increase of 83.6% reported abuse during stay-at-home orders in April and May of 2020, meaning 1 in 5 older individuals living in homes, reporting abuse by their caretakers. There has also been a steep increase in victims of elder-fraud from 2019 to 2020, up 55%. Sadly, there is no end in sight, as researchers believe this dangerous and violent patter of elder abuse and fraud will continue even when the pandemic comes to an end, due our rapidly increasing aging population and the lack of trained caregivers in the field.

Ohio is no exception, seeing an 8% increase in abuse and neglect cases and 12% increase in reports of elder exploitation, across the state. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services currently receives approximately 88 adult protective service referrals each day, although it is estimated that this does not match the true number of those that are in danger and need help on a daily basis, due to underreporting. This has prompted law makers to take action and introduce a state awareness campaign, as well as new legislation.

In the fall of 2021, a bill was proposed in the legislature to create a greater reporting system and increase enforcement of penalties for those who knowingly fail to report abuse, exploitation, and neglect against our aging population. It has been introduced in the House and has been introduced to committee.

How to Make Sure the Ones You Love are Safe

As reports of elder abuse, mistreatment, and fraud continue to rise, it is paramount that friends, family, and communities work to keep our vulnerable populations safe from harm. If you are informed of or witness abuse you should immediately report it.

Isolation has also impacted older individuals, causing loneliness and fewer chance to witness or report cases of abuse if they are occurring. Please check in on your older loved ones and community members and check for warning signs of elder abuse, such as, sign of physical harm, changes in mood or personality, financial situations, or missing medical appointments.

Grieco Law has decades of experience advocating for and helping those in homes and facilities experiencing harm or injury. If you or a loved one needs representation, our attorneys can help assist you in evaluating your legal options and in choosing the right path forward. Do not hesitate to reach out to our firm for a free consultation.

Please contact us today to find out how we can help you.

To find out how to report abuse of an older loved one please call the state referral line at 1-855-644-6277.