USA: Is Adult Protective Services Protecting Abusers? – Janet Phelan

When the Elder Justice Initiative was recently funded by Congress for $4 million for the fiscal year 2015–at a mere fraction of the $25 million requested by President Obama—consumer advocates were ecstatic.  The funds are earmarked for Adult Protective Services (APS), which has a national mandate to protect the elderly from abuse.

 America’s dirty little secret (well, one of them, anyway) is the reality of elder abuse.  As reported by,  14% of older adults have experienced abuse since turning 60. As far as the financial cost of elder abuse, EJA reports that those who have been financially abused have lost an estimated 2.9 billion dollars per year and that the medical costs associated with elder abuse are greater than $5 billion. Furthermore, those who had confirmed cases of elder abuse, according to EJA, had twice the chance of ending up dead than those who had not been abused.

This abuse, however, is not limited to those who are related or socially connected with an elderly person. In fact, those who are appointed by the court as guardians are often the perpetrators of elder abuse. The Government Accountability Office published a study in 2010, entitled “GUARDIANSHIPS: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect, and Abuse of Seniors”and had this to say about the phenomenon of guardians abusing their wards:

 “GAO identified hundreds of allegations of physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by guardians in 45 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2010. In 20 selected closed cases, GAO found that guardians stole or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million in assets from 158 incapacitated victims, many of whom were seniors. In some instances, guardians also physically neglected and abused their victims.” 

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