“It’s Everyone’s Business”
May is Elder Abuse Prevention month and Older Americans Month, and Adult Protective Services (APS) is reminding Texans that stopping elder abuse is truly everyone’s responsibility.
No one knows exactly how many older Texans are being abused, neglected, or financially exploited. Many victims are too embarrassed to ask for help, and their suffering can be shrouded by secrecy.
As our population ages, statistics show the problem is a growing concern: nationwide studies estimate that three to five million seniors age 65 and older have experienced abuse, with only one in five cases reported.
In 2008, Texas APS, a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), completed almost 70,000 investigations of abuse, neglect or exploitation involving adults living at home. Of those, more than 48,000 cases were confirmed, with most cases including physical or medical neglect.
In these cases, it was often family members – adult children, spouses or grandchildren – who were the perpetrators.
“Everyone needs to be diligent to ensure vulnerable adults are free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” said Karl Urban, APS Assistant Commissioner. “Isolation places vulnerable adults at risk. That’s why elder abuse prevention is everyone’s business.”
This marks the fourth year of APS’ It’s Everyone’s Business campaign. It’s a statewide effort to educate Texans about the pervasive problem of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly and adults with disabilities, and to encourage citizens to get involved in making a positive difference.
Throughout May, APS employees across Texas will distribute brochures and information kits, as well as participate in conferences, information fairs, and ceremonies honoring those who work on behalf of vulnerable adults.
The message is simple but important. If you believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected, or exploited, report it by calling 1-800-252-5400.
For more information about preventing elder abuse, and to download public awareness materials, visit EveryonesBusiness.org.
APS Facts and Figures
· The mission of APS is to protect the elderly and adults with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by investigating, and providing or arranging for services necessary to alleviate or prevent further maltreatment.
· Texas has more than 2.3 million residents 65 or older. Nearly one out of five people have a disability, and almost half of those older than 65 have a disability.
· In 2008, APS investigations completed 68,683 investigations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving adults living at home. Of these, more than 48,380 were confirmed. As a comparison, in 2007 APS completed 64,459 investigations and confirmed in 45,934 cases.
· In the last decade, the number of in-home cases investigated by APS has more than doubled.
· APS serves those 65 or older, and those 18 to 64 with a disabling condition.