The federal government has introduced a major new initiative to combat rising abuse and exploitation of the elderly — the “Elder Justice Roadmap,” a comprehensive framework for neutralizing financial, psychological and physical risks to older Americans.
Elder abuse impacts about five million Americans each year. This crime, which can include physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation, will result in thousands of cases of illness, injury and suffering for these elderly victims, their loved ones and their caregivers. It is tragic that so few cases are reported to the authorities. According to some statistics, only about one in 24 is reported. With baby boomers retiring and this widespread impact of elder abuse, the Elder Justice Roadmap Project was initiated to collect the thoughts of experts and stakeholders from across the nation. Their aim was to develop a strategic resource to fight elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. The project's report identifies and prioritizes actions that direct service providers, educators, and researchers can take to benefit older adults in this situation. And as its name implies, it provides a roadmap for strategic investment and engagement by policymakers in both the public and private sectors to advance these efforts to prevent and combat elder abuse.
The Elder Justice Roadmap Project’s publication came about after President Obama pledged to eliminate the victimization of older Americans. On June 11, he proclaimed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and declared that the government must improve the criminal justice response and work harder to ensure all Americans have the “right to enjoy their retirement years with a basic sense of security.”
According to its Executive Summary, The Elder Justice Roadmap Project's top five priorities deemed vital to understanding and reducing elder abuse and to promoting health, independence, and justice for older adults are the following:
1. Awareness: Increasing public awareness of elder abuse, which requires a holistic, well-coordinated response in services, education, policy, and research.
2. Brain health: Conducting research and sharpening the focus on cognitive (in)capacity and mental health, which are critical factors both for victims and perpetrators.
3. Caregiving: Providing better support and training for the tens of millions of paid and unpaid caregivers who are vitally important in preventing elder abuse.
4. Economics: Quantifying the costs of elder abuse, often a huge fiscal cost to victims, families and society.
5. Resources: Strategically investing more resources in services, education, research, and expanding knowledge to reduce elder abuse.
The Elder Justice Roadmap Project strives to simplify a complex set of decisions that magnify in importance over time. Resources are available for families to plot their place on the Roadmap to find missed, current, and upcoming actions they should take. For more assistance, contact your elder law attorney. He or she will help you advocate for the health, care, and well-being of yourself or your loved one.
Reference: Elder Justice Roadmap Project Report, "Elder Justice Roadmap Project Executive Summary"