Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced that he will be working with Ohio officials and advocates to help mitigate elder abuse through the New Elder Justice Initiative. The initiative will increase the number of investigations into cases of elder abuse by identifying, investigating, and prosecuting abuse cases, as well as increase services to victims. The abuse initiative will involve Mike DeWine’s office, the Crime Victim Services Division, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Consumer Protection, Health Care Fraud, and the Special Prosecutions Division. (Read more about the deets here:http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2014/05/ohio_attorney_general_announce_1.html)
This is a big problem.
Our oldest and youngest citizens represent a vulnerable group. Elder abuse can come at the hands of trusted caretakers via neglect and emotional trauma inside nursing homes or even in our homes in the case of home health aides. Cases can range from physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse, abandonment, and through financial exploitation.
Nor is it a small group. Policy Matters Ohio reported that the number of state residents aged 60 or older will exceed 2.5 million by 2015. And the abuse is all too common: the Department of Justice estimates that roughly 1 in 20 people over 60 are victims of elder abuse. That’s a scary number, but it is probably only a fraction of the true scope of abuse. Some sources estimate that for every 1 person who reports elder abuse, 5 do not. As reported recently on NPR, researcher Wendy Patton believes the 15,000 cases of abuse reported in Ohio each year could reach 10 times that when unreported incidents are factored in.
Some stories get press coverage, but most do not. Sometimes people even get prosecuted.
In 2012, the attorney general's health care fraud section, Cleveland police, the prosecutor's office, as well as the Department of Health, conducted an investigation of two nursing aides who were physically abusing a 78 year old patient. Both aides pleaded guilty, one to a misdemeanor assault charge and the other to 7 counts of patient abuse. The later was sentenced to 10 ½ years in prison.
Hopefully this initiative will help stem the tide of abuse our oldest relatives—along with children, disabled, and other vulnerable populations—face every day. While I’m proud to represent people who have suffered elder abuse in Ohio, once I’m involved, the damage has been done. While civil justice is critical to shape behavior—especially for the institutions that should be guarding against their employees committing the abuse—we’d all be better off if it never happened.
What do you think about this initiative? About the scourge of elder abuse in Ohio? Please take a moment to comment, like, and +1 below—it is fast and easy! There’s also an option to share the story.