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As population ages, risk of nursing home abuse increases

According to recent data from the United States Census Bureau, there are currently 40 million people over the age of 65 living in the U.S. In addition, the baby boomer generation is now living longer than generations before. The number of people who are living to age 90 and beyond has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Currently, there are 2 million people aged 90 and older in Miami and across the country, and that number is expected to quadruple by 2050.

As the number of elderly continues to grow in the U.S., so does the number of people in assisted living facilities. And with an increase in nursing home residence comes an increased risk for nursing home abuse and neglect. Throughout the country, advocates are fighting for an increased awareness of this problem, and for state and local communities to take action to prevent it.

About one in 10 seniors are victims of elder abuse at some point, according to a retirement community CEO. The form of abuse ranges, from physical or sexual abuse committed by nursing home staff, to emotional abuse or neglect from family members, and even financial abuse that leaves the victim completely insolvent.

According to Sally Hurme of AARP, communities need to create shelters or other safe facilities for elders who have fallen victim to abuse. "There is a genuine recognition by those who are concerned by the abuse of elders that there need to be appropriate safe houses for them to get out of immediate harm's way," she said. "Nationally, we've been aware of the need for elder abuse shelters, but they've been slow in coming into fruition."

Source: USA Today, "As USA grays, elder abuse risk and need for shelters grow," Haya El Nasser, Jan. 10, 2012

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