According to Gregg County officials from the Adult Protective Services agency, which is tasked with protecting elderly Texan citizens in similar county agencies across the state, officials investigated and confirmed nearly 350 cases of elder abuse in 2014. The report, which was released on National Elder Abuse Awareness Day, highlights the pervasive nature of elder abuse occurring not only in Gregg County, but all across the state of Texas and the nation as well. According to statements made by officials, the unfortunate reality is that behind these relatively high figures is the industry estimate that perhaps only 10% of all elder abuse cases actually are reported, let alone investigated resulting in confirmation. In this sense, Gregg Country elder abuse officials seek to also use this statistic on elder abuse, as well as Elder Abuse National Awareness Month as a means to bring light to a large-scale and largely underreported problem.
Nationally, officials estimate that well over 2 million seniors endure some form of abuse in a given year, with a large percentage of these cases involving nursing home abuse or some level of exploitation by those close to the senior, including family members. The disturbing reality is that while numerous state statutes contain provisions for criminal prosecution of elder abuse as an aggravated offense, most of these cases of elder abuse will not only go unreported, but likely continue in light of non-reporting. Officials from Gregg Country Adult Protective Services in Texas took the opportunity to highlight several key features specific to elder abuse cases including:
- Elderly populations are particularly vulnerable by way of age, isolation, and medical conditions, which requires a societal obligation to provide these individuals with a strong measure of deference and higher degree of legal protection
- A significant portion of elder abuse stems from lack of education and knowledge by both the seniors and their family members, specifically as it relates to legal options for investigating and pursuing claims against suspected cases of elder abuse
- Complicating any elder or nursing home abuse case is the long-standing knowledge that many elderly individuals refuse to report the abuse themselves for fear of reprisals, being a burden to their loved ones, or in light of misunderstanding their basic and enhanced legal protections under Texas and other state laws.
Finally, it is important to note that some telltale signs of the possibility of elder abuse include injuries frequently dismissible as commonplace. However, the practical reality is that recurring injuries lacking plausible explanation, financial irregularities, and social isolation and seclusion by elderly patients is usually indicative of a pattern of abuse. Consulting with a lawyer about your investigative, reporting, and legal claims options on behalf of your older loved ones is advisable in these instances.