WASHINGTON — An estimated 1.5 million elderly Americans are abused each year, often by their own children, but the government has "virtually ignored" the worsening problem, a House subcommittee reported today.
Most cases of elder abuse go unreported because older people are ashamed to admit their families abuse them or they fear reprisals if they complain, the subcommittee on health and long-term care reported.
"Elder abuse has been virtually ignored by the federal government, even in the face of mounting evidence of its scope and severity," the report said.
The incidence of such abuse has increased from about 1 million victims annually in 1980 to 1.5 million, or 5% of all older Americans, the panel said.
The subcommittee said its survey of states and social workers found thousands of accounts of abuse, ranging from systematic theft of Social Security checks to violent physical abuse including rape and murder.