To the editor:
On Mother’s Day, we honor and remember our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. One of the harsh realities of growing older in the United States is the unprecedented number of older adults affected by elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. It has been estimated that between 500,000 and 5 million elders have been forced to cope with some form of elder abuse, be it physical, mental or financial. Two-thirds of the victims are women.
The estimation of 500,000 to 5 million may sound like a wide variance with a huge gray area, but therein lies a major part of the problem. Many cases aren’t reported, often due to shame or as a result of the victim’s fear of losing care because their caregiver may be the abuser. This issue is a growing concern that has been ignored by Washington for far too long; to this day there still isn’t a single federal law to comprehensively address elder abuse.
Older Women’s League (OWL) highlighted the issue of violence against older women 15 years ago, fighting for legislation ever since. In 2009, OWL is teaming up with the Elder Justice Coalition and the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. OWL has developed a thorough report titled “Elder Abuse: A Women’s Issue,” focusing on all aspects of elder abuse. It is time to stop elder abuse; women will not sit idly by and watch their mothers and grandmothers become victims in the twilight of their lives.