Arizona Steps Up to Fight Elder Abuse

MP900407553Arizona statistics show that elderly adults have been the victims of abuse, neglect, and fraud in nearly 14,000 case—with the number of cases reported last year jumping 19% over the year before, according to a Cronkite News article entitled "Abuse of Arizona’s elderly increases as aging population grows."

More than 4,000 cases involved financial exploitation, and there were 3,661 reports involving vulnerable adults being physically abused. Arizona had more than 9,400 cases of neglect, including self-neglect cases. The 2015 caseload of Arizona Adult Protective Services is at an all-time high. According to its Annual Report, APS reports have increased by 79% in the last five years. The report also said they’ve closed 13,394 cases after investigations. The increase in cases in the last year can be attributed to more awareness and education of the problem with more people reporting cases to APS. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, only one in 14 cases are reported.

Financial abuse is becoming more prevalent, not just within the Copper State, but nationwide. The 2008 recession caused a new kind of vulnerability for the elderly. Resources were already scarce prior to the drop in the economy, and those who were already struggling to make ends meet faced even more difficulties.

People who seek to exploit older adults are capitalizing on their desperation and their vulnerability. Today they’re also capitalizing on the fact that the number of older adults has increased, which provides even more opportunities. Nationally, financial abuse and exploitation lead to seniors losing about $2.9 billion yearly.

It’s not uncommon to see perpetrators without malintent who are reported, as some caregivers become overwhelmed and overworked. This can lead to vulnerable situations. APS reported last year that 30% of alleged perpetrators were family members.

Arizona has no unique sentencing laws for vulnerable adult abuse cases; these cases have the same potential felonies as any other crime in Arizona.

In Arizona, between 4,600 and 6,900 seniors will experience some type of abuse every year, according to the Arizona Elder Abuse Coalition.

Reference: Cronkite News (March 2, 2016) "Abuse of Arizona’s elderly increases as aging population grows"

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