States with the Best Elder-Abuse Protections
Abuse happens every day and takes many forms. But vulnerable older Americans are among the easiest targets for this misconduct, especially those who are women, have disabilities and rely on others for care. By one estimate, elder abuse affects as many as 5 million people per year, and more than 95 percent of all cases go unreported.
Unless states take action to prevent further abuse, the problem will grow as America becomes an increasingly aging nation. 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, much to the credit of aging Baby Boomers who began turning 65 in 2011. And by just 2030, 1 in 5 U.S. residents will be retirement age.
Fortunately, states recognize that elder abuse is a real and growing issue. But sadly, only some are fighting hard enough to stop it. WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 14 key indicators of elder-abuse protection in 3 overall categories. Our data set ranges from “share of elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints” to “financial elder-abuse laws.” Continue reading below for our findings, expert commentary and a full description of our methodology.
States with the Best Elder-Abuse Protections
|State||Total Score||‘Prevalence’ Rank||‘Resources’ Rank||‘Protection’ Rank|
|30||District of Columbia||46.00||43||2||31|
Ask the Experts
There are ways for families, organizations and lawmakers to protect America’s elderly population. We consulted a panel of experts in fields such as social welfare and aging for insight and advice. Read about the panelists and their thoughts on the following key questions below:
- What are the most common types of elder abuse?
- How can policymakers protect the elderly from abuse, financial or otherwise?
- Should a caregiver be legally allowed to financially benefit from the death of the person he or she was caring for?
- What can families do to protect elderly family members from financial abuse?
In order to determine the states with the best protection against elder abuse, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Prevalence, 2) Resources and 3) Protection.
We evaluated these dimensions using 14 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.”
Finally, we determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Prevalence – Total Points: 40
- Share of Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints: Full Weight (~40.00 Points)
Notes: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints by the number of residents aged 65 and older. “Complaints” include those made to the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
Resources – Total Points: 30
- Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention per Resident Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Total Expenditures on Legal-Assistance Development per Resident Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding per Resident Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
Protection – Total Points: 30
- Financial Elderly-Abuse Laws: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This is a binary metric that considers the presence or absence of such legislation.
- Eldercare Organizations & Services per Resident Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Forensic Centers: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of Elder Abuse Forensic Centers in a state.
- Presence of Elder Abuse Working Groups: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: An “Elder-Abuse Working Group” is defined by the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center as “an entity such as a task force, council, commission, or non-profit organization, convened to address elder abuse issues at the state level.”
- Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per Resident Aged 65 & Older: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
- Frequency of Assisted-Living Facilities Inspections: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
- Quality of Nursing Homes: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of certified nursing-home beds rated 4 or 5 stars.
- Presence of Laws Allowing Surveillance Cams in Nursing Homes: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of state laws allowing surveillance cams in nursing homes.
- Presence of Elder Justice Task Forces: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of an Elder Justice Task Force in a state.
- Presence of Elder-Abuse Shelters: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This binary metrics measures the presence or absence of elder-abuse shelters in a state.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Aging Integrated Database, National Conference of State Legislatures, Administration on Aging - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians & Public Conservators, National Center on Elder Abuse, National Consumer Voice, U.S. Department of Justice, Fox News and United Health Foundation.
Image: Ruslan Guzov / Shutterstock.com
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