North Huntingdon, PA -State Senator Kim Ward (R-39th), Chairperson of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, heard testimony Tuesday on the growing problem of elder abuse in Pennsylvania.
Professionals from social service agencies, as well as elder care providers testified on the state of the problem and the numerous programs and methods in place to combat it during a hearing held at Redstone Highlands Senior Living campus in North Huntingdon Township.
“The hearing brought to light that elder abuse isn’t one dimensional,” stated Senator Ward.
According to Rebecca Kubas, Administrator of Excela Health’s Home Health Services it is estimated that 11 percent of Americans over the age of 60 suffer some form of abuse either emotionally, negligently, or financially; and two-thirds of those cases are perpetrated by spouses or the senior citizen’s children. Kubas said that often it is the emotional and physical demands of providing 24/7 care to elderly relatives with mental health issues that spawn abusive situations. “It’s hard to see that over and over and remember that they are still your mother,” she said.
Others pointed to the growing problem of an elderly person’s finances being manipulated by relatives for their own financial gain. John R. Dickson IV, President and Chief Executive Officer of Redstone Highlands, recommended that it be made a crime if an elderly person needs services, but their funds are being drawn down by a relative or caregiver for purposes other than their care. “It would be very useful if the word was out there that this has become a criminal offense,” he said.
“As the population in Pennsylvania continues to grow older, we must maintain our diligence in protecting our senior citizens,” claimed Ward. “This month the Aging and Youth Committee is committed to examining the future of long term care for our elderly, and developing a strategy moving forward,” she added.