Wednesday, June 13, 2012
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
"Our senior citizens have contributed so much to our nation. We owe it to them to make sure they can live out their later years in peace, comfort and safety.
That starts with doing a better job of protecting them from physical, mental and financial abuse. Each year, an estimated one in ten older Americans experiences some kind of abuse. Sometimes, it's an elderly woman left tied in her chair while her "caregiver" goes out. Sometimes, it's an aging parent who's bullied by a violent child. Other times, it's an older couple intimidated into turning over their life's savings to a crooked financial adviser.
This abuse is distressingly common. Yet it often goes undiscussed, and only an estimated one in 24 cases is ever reported to authorities.
As our population ages, we need a new commitment to fighting elder abuse.
That starts with making it part of the national conversation. Elder abuse has been able to flourish because witnesses too often fail to step in. Sometimes we simply don't recognize abuse, like when we assume an elderly friend gave his money away voluntarily. In other cases, we know what's happening is wrong but hesitate to speak out."