Unfortunately, Tennessee is experiencing something called the “Silent Crisis.” Elderly abuse, which usually takes place at the hands of those most trusted by the victim, goes unreported more often than not. In Tennessee, the number of assaults increased by roughly 20 percent between 2009 and 2013. The number of fraud cases against elders increased by 21 percent during this time. Worse still, the projected number of unreported elder abuse cases could be as high as 23 percent.
Elderly abuse can take many forms, which include:
- Physical assault
- Psychological abuse
- Financial exploitation
Sadly, most of this abuse goes unreported if the victim feels shame, a fear of becoming dependent, a desire not to be relocated or when the abuser is a family member. In some cases, it is possible the victim doesn’t even realize the abuse is happening.
What are State Representatives Doing to Protect the Elderly?
Luckily, the General Assembly passed multiple bills during this past legislative session to provide protections for Tennessee’s elderly population. One bill will create Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigation Teams that will examine instances of suspected elderly abuse. All information gathered will be reviewed by a disciplinary adult protective services team who will determine how to handle the situation. Additionally, funds will become available to better train support staff.
Another law that passed will require background checks for all caregivers in nursing homes. This includes fingerprint samples and references. The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability will also team up with banks and credit unions to create changes that would provide financial protection for senior citizens vulnerable to elder abuse.
Stanley A. Davis is a Nashville personal injury lawyer who stands up for senior citizens and fights against elderly abuse.
“Stand up in the presence of the elderly and show respect for the aged. Fear your GOD. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:32