|For Immediate Release
||CONTACT: Christi Powers
State Bar of Wisconsin
(800) 444-9404, ext. 6025
org cpowers wisbar wisbar cpowers org
May is Elder Abuse Awareness month
State Bar Recognizes 19th anniversary of elder abuse prevention law in
MADISON, May 20, 2003 - The State Bar of Wisconsin
joins with national and local leaders in recognizing the month of May as
Elder Abuse Awareness month. In conjunction with the national observance
of Older Americans Month, Wisconsin marks its 19th anniversary of
enacting legislation to prevent elderly abuse.
Since 1985, more than 41,000 elder abuse or neglect cases have been
reported in Wisconsin amounting to an average of nearly 3,300 cases each
year. Based on a 1999 report issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health and
Family Services (DHFS), a total of 3,257 cases were reported in 1999
resulting in a 6 percent increase from the previous year. Of those
cases, 9 were fatal and 363 were considered life-threatening. Some 1,707
cases were attributed to self-neglect but in the remaining cases a total
of 79 percent of the alleged abusers were relatives of the victim.
"We have state laws and agencies designed to protect our aging
citizens," said Attorney Peter E. Grosskopf, chair of the State Bar's
Elder Law section. "Unfortunately, a profile of elder abuse shows that
these victims are among the most socially isolated and physically
vulnerable people who can be psychologically conditioned not to report
the abuse," he said.
The DHFS report shows that Wisconsin's elderly victims are the least
likely of all domestic violence victims to seek or accept services.
Known to human service professionals as the 'invisible' population,
elderly abuse can manifest physically, emotionally and financially and
often goes unreported.
A 1996 national incidence study conducted by the Administration on
Aging shows that 551,011 persons, aged 60 years and over, experienced
abuse, neglect or self-neglect. By the time people reach 80 years of
age, they are two-to-three times more likely to incur abuse or neglect.
In 90 percent of the 1996 cases reported nationally, a total of 90
percent of the alleged abusers were relatives of the victim.
"One of the ways we're addressing the incidence of abuse in Wisconsin
is that each county has now formed an elder abuse disciplinary team that
will work to promote awareness, coordinate community resources and
identify service gaps," Grosskopf said. "Here at the State Bar, our goal
is to stay current with new and emerging legislation and also assist in
offering informational seminars and literature," he said.
The State Bar's Continuing Legal Education department offers books
and seminars for both the public and legal community. Last year marked
the 16th annual Law and the Elderly seminar offering information on
pensions, health care, and how to prevent financial exploitation among
the elderly. Other State Bar resources include pamphlets, such as "A
Gift to Your Family," which provides information about planning for
future health care needs. Consumers can order this guide by calling
1-888-LAW-5799. Other low-cost or free literature is available at LegalExplorer.com, the State
Bar's one-stop-shop for consumer information.