Elder Abuse Cases are Skyrocketing in Washington State
Cases of elder abuse are skyrocketing in Washington state, according to the state’s Adult Protective Services. But new legislation is aiming to curb the problem, Q13 Fox reports.
Last year, Adult Protective Services, a division of Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, said the agency received more than 42,000 reports of alleged elder abuse. That’s a 62% increase compared to 2014’s 25,889 reported cases.
In 2008, the department received 14,337 reports of alleged elder abuse, marking a 200% increase in reports between 2008 and 2016.
Experts speculate that the skyrocketing number of claims has to do with the aging baby boomer population.
Lawmakers in Washington are hoping to curb cases of elder abuse through new legislation.
“Physical and financial abuse of the elderly is at epidemic proportions now,” said Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland. Goodman supports the new bill, which aims to strengthen penalties. He says the governor “will certainly sign the bill.”
Under the proposed legislation, victims would have six years instead of three to take legal action against scammers. Extending the statute of limitations would give prosecutors more convictions.
Goodman says financial abuse, when dealing with the elderly, is rarely discovered in time.
A recent survey from InvestmentNews found that 62% of the 591 advisers polled have either seen or suspected financial abuse of elderly clients at least once. More than half of those advisors (56%) said they didn’t report the abuse.
Among those who did not report the abuse, 61% said their reasoning was they “did not have enough evidence” to back their claim. Fear of being sued complicates matters even further.
In cases of suspected financial abuse, a family member was the suspected perpetrator in 65% of cases. Caregivers were the suspects in 30% of cases.
A survey of Bank of America Merrill Lynch advisers, according to InvestmentNews, also showed that children were the most common perpetrator in cases of elder financial abuse (71%). Other family members accounted for 32% of the cases, while anonymous scammers accounted for 18% of cases. More than one type of perpetrator was identified.
The InvestmentNews survey also found that while advisers were concerned about preventing cases of elder abuse, 39% of them are identified as suspected perpetrators in cases of alleged financial abuse.
In the State of Washington, Pierce County is leading the fight against elder abuse in the state. The county launched its Elder Abuse Project campaign in September, and received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department to aid in their cause.
Pierce was one of nine counties to receive the funding, which was used to create a team of law enforcement, caregivers, adult protective services staff and others to aid in victim services and training.
Mark Lindquist, Pierce County prosecutor, said the team will “link victims to financial services, legal services, mental health and other services the victims need.”
Since putting the team together, Lindquist said, he has seen an increase in reports of elder abuse and cases being prosecuted. Lindquist hopes the new bill will encourage other counties to put together teams to protect vulnerable adults.
Author: Jacob Maslow