As the number of older adults continues to climb in the United States, government officials, private advocacy groups, and society in general are all struggling with how to handle the numerous and varied needs of this segment of the population. Everyone is concerned about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. As various states wrestle with how to protect a vulnerable population from the predators who prey on them, it appears some states are having more success than others. Although there is room for improvement, Oklahoma’s ranking in the study shows that the state is doing better than average at protecting elders from abuse.
The Historic Growth Of The Senior Population
Over the past several decades, the senior population in the United States has experienced a historic rate of growth. By the year 2030, experts tell us that one in every five Americans will be retirement age. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau expects the population aged 65 and older to nearly double from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million in 2050. With that growth, we have seen a prevalence of elder abuse. Though accurate figures are difficult to ascertain because many elder abuse victims do not report the abuse, conservative estimates are troubling, to say the least. Among those estimates are the following:
- Experts believe more than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reported, as many as 14 go unreported.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients.
The Wallet Hub Study
WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 14 key indicators of elder-abuse protection in three overall categories – prevalence, resources, and protection. They then evaluated these using 14 relevant metrics. Each metric was scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.” The results were compiled into an overall ranking for elder abuse protection. Individual sub-category rankings were also provided for the top five and bottom five in each sub-category. The 14 metrics used in the study are as follows:
- Prevalence – Total 40 Points
- Share of Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints
- Resources – Total 30 Points
- Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Expenditures on Legal-Assistance Development per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Protection – Total 30 Points
- Financial Elderly-Abuse Laws
- Eldercare Organizations & Services per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Forensic Centers
- Presence of Elder Abuse Working Groups
- Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per Resident Aged 65 & Older
- Frequency of Assisted-Living Facilities Inspections
- Quality of Nursing Homes
- Presence of Laws Allowing Surveillance Cams in Nursing Homes
- Presence of Elder Justice Task Forces
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Shelters
The State of Oklahoma came in 18th overall in the Wallet Hub study with a composite score of 50.62 out of 100. To put that number in perspective, Massachusetts came in 1st with a score of 63.68 and South Carolina ranked last with a combined score of just 15.49. Oklahoma scored particularly high in the category of “Protection,” coming in 5th in the nation as well as in the “Resources” category where Oklahoma ranked number 12. In the “Prevalence” category, however, Oklahoma did not fare as well, placing 31st out of the states (and D.C.). Oklahoma was absent from the top and bottom five states noted in the sub-categories, which can be taken as good or bad news, depending on your perspective. It is clear that Oklahoma is doing more than many states to protect its elderly residents; however, it is equally clear that more can – and should – be done in the future.
Contact Oklahoma Elder Law Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding elder law issues, or if you are concerned that a loved one is the victim of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, contact the experienced Oklahoma elder law attorneys at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 or 913-385-9400 to schedule your appointment today.