If it seems as though there are more seniors in the overall population in recent years, its because there are more seniors. In fact, the older adult population in the United States has been steadily increasing for several decades now. With the increase in seniors has come a corresponding focus on issues that concern seniors and those who care for them. At the top of that list is abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly. As states struggle to implement laws and procedures that will help protect the elderly, the number of elder abuse complaints continues to rise across the nation. Some states appear to be doing a better job than others, according to a recent study. North Dakota lands in the middle of the rankings, meaning there is still work to be done to protect the state’s seniors.
The Elderly Population in the U.S.
During the second half of the 20th century, the population of older Americans (age 65 and older)increased dramatically – and shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. On the contrary, experts tell us that one in five Americans will be retirement age by the year 2030. One of the primary reasons for the historical increase in the elderly population is the fact that the Baby Boomer generation has just started entering their retirement years. U.S. Census Bureau expects the population aged 65 and older to nearly double from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million in 2050. The dramatic increase in the number of seniors in the U.S. has produced an unwanted side effect – a corresponding increase in the number of elder abuse complaints. To get an idea of the serious nature of the elder abuse problem in the U.S., consider the following facts and figures:
- Experts believe more than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reports, as many as 14 go unreported.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients.
The Wallet Hub Study
WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 14 key indicators of elder-abuse protection in three overall categories – prevalence, resources, and protection. They then evaluated these dimensions using 14 relevant metrics. Each metric was scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.” The results were compiled into an overall ranking for elder abuse protection. Individual sub-category rankings were also provided for the top five and bottom five in each sub-category. The 14 metrics used in the study are as follows:
- Prevalence – Total 40 Points
- Share of Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints
- Resources – Total 30 Points
- Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Expenditures on Legal-Assistance Development per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Protection – Total 30 Points
- Financial Elderly-Abuse Laws
- Eldercare Organizations & Services per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Forensic Centers
- Presence of Elder Abuse Working Groups
- Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Frequency of Assisted-Living Facilities Inspections
- Quality of Nursing Homes
- Presence of Laws Allowing Surveillance Cams in Nursing Homes
- Presence of Elder Justice Task Forces
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Shelters
How Did North Dakota Do?
North Dakota landed almost exactly in the middle of the states, coming in at number 26 with an overall score of 47.60 out of a possible 100. The “Resources” category was North Dakota’s strongest category with the state ranking 18th, followed by Prevalence and then Protection, placing 26th and 32nd in those categories respectively. Massachusetts led the nation with a first place composite score of 63.68 while South Carolina came in last with an overall score of 15.49. Unfortunately, North Dakota tied with five other states in the sub-category “Lowest Total Expenditures on Elder Abuse Prevention.” On a more positive note, the state came in 5th in the sub-category “Most Eldercare Organizations and Services” and ranked an impressive 4th place in the sub-category of “Highest Nursing Homes — Quality”
Contact a North Dakota Elder Law Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding elder law issues, or if you have reason to believe that an elderly loved one is the victim of elder abuse, contact the North Dakota elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.