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Airdate: Apr 13, 2017
Scientist: Karen Roberto

Rethinking Elder Care - Abuse

Rethinking Elder Care - Abuse
The family member who takes twenty dollars to pick up milk and brings back the milk but no change.

Elder Care - Abuse

National studies estimate about one in ten older Americans experience some form of elder abuse. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Roberto: That's a secret that people don't like to talk about. But more and more we are raising elder abuse to the national headlines, so that it doesn't go unnoticed.

Karen Roberto is a university distinguished professor of gerontology at Virginia Tech.

Roberto: When we think about how do we identify outer abuse, that could be physical, emotional, financial, neglect. Unfortunately physical is the easiest. You see the bruises. Psychological or emotional abuse oftentimes is the hardest to get our head around.
From an individual's perspective, you have to speak up - in a safe environment. That might be, telling a doctor, or telling a friend that you're uncomfortable with your situation.
If we use the case of financial abuse or exploitation, there are oftentimes family members as well as strangers involved with that. The family member who takes your twenty dollars to the store because you've asked them to pick up milk for you and brings back your milk but no change. Maybe one time you don't say anything about that. But if that is a continuous piece, is that financial exploitation? From a stranger perspective, we see that the neighborhood scams all the time, where people might walk up and say, "I'm noticing your roof. You might need some new shingles. And I happen to have some left over from a project that I've been working on." So, oftentimes older adults don't want to have to rely on their family to say, "Oh come help me with my roof." They're just going to take care of it.

We'll hear more on Elder Care in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.