KY: Domestic ViolencePage 8 of 17

6. Elder Abuse

In 1980 the Kentucky Legislature passed legislation designed to protect adults who were “unable to manage their own affairs or to protect themselves from abuse, neglect, or exploitation” (KRS 209.090). For the purposes of this law the following definitions apply:

Adult means a person eighteen (18) years of age or older who, because of mental or physical dysfunctioning, is unable to manage his or her own resources, carry out the activity of daily living, or protect himself or herself from neglect, exploitation, or a hazardous or abusive situation without assistance from others, and who may be in need of protective services;

Abuse means the infliction of injury, sexual abuse, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment that results in physical pain or injury, including mental injury;

Neglect means a situation in which an adult is unable to perform or obtain for himself or herself the goods or services that are necessary to maintain his or her health or welfare, or the deprivation of services by a caretaker that are necessary to maintain the health and welfare of an adult;

Exploitation means obtaining or using another person’s resources, including but not limited to funds, assets, or property, by deception, intimidation, or similar means, with the intent to deprive the person of those resources (KRS 209.020).

According to the best available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection (NCEA, 2005).

Elder abuse is still a problem that defies resolution. Most authorities believe the majority of incidents are not being reported. Signs of elder abuse may be missed by professionals who lack training in identifying these signs, and “the elderly may be reluctant to report abuse themselves because of fear of retaliation, lack of physical and/or cognitive ability to report, or because they don’t want to get the abuser (90% of whom are family members) in trouble” (NCEA, n.d.).

Complicating prevalence estimates is the difficulty in defining and quantifying elder abuse. Available data indicate that the highest rates of elder abuse are among women and those aged 80 and older. In 90% of cases, the perpetrator is a family member, most often a spouse or adult child (Nelson, 2004).

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