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Scope of the Problem

In the fall of 1998 a study examining the number of elder abuse incidents in the United States painted an alarming picture of the true scope of abusive behavior. Called the National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, it was funded by two branches of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services: the Administration on Aging and the Administration for Children and Families. Conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse and a survey research firm, the study found that for the year 1996 some 450,000 elderly persons in domestic settings were abused or neglected. That figure is frightening enough, but more frightening is the fact that only a fraction of those cases were reported to local Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies. Through several methodologies including local reports from “sentinels” (specially trained people in community agencies who have contact with and access to the elderly), they were able to arrive at the 450,000 number. The actual number of cases reported by APS agencies in 1996 was 70,942. That represents a mere 16 percent of the estimated figure.

Inside Scope of the Problem