A University of Iowa study on domestic elder abuse cases nationwide finds states that require mandatory reporting and tracking of elder abuse reports have much higher investigation rates than states without mandatory requirements. Dr. Gerald Jogerst, a U-of-I professor and interim head of family medicine is the study’s lead investigator. He says In Iowa, about zero-point-three individuals per one-thousand in the elder population are substantiated as being abused. Other states are much higher, like Minnesota, where eight-point-six people out of one-thousand are substantiated as abused.Domestic elder abuse is defined as the abuse of adults or dependent/vulnerable adults age 60 and older who live in private residences, not care facilities. Dr. Jogerst says it’s a serious public health and public safety issue. Jogerst says the way such cases are detected and handled differs significantly between states because state laws and regulations vary greatly. He says Iowa is one of 11 states that currently have protective services caseworkers handling both elder and child abuse cases.The study is believed to be the first to comprehensively relate domestic elder abuse rates to laws and regulations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. He says public awareness of the mistreatment is important, as he says if we all know about it and report it, that will help reduce the elder abuse. Variations are widespread in how states document elder abuse cases. For example, some states, including Iowa, used the term “report” in summaries when referring to what, by standard definition, is considered an “investigation.” Jogerst says “Our findings suggest improvements and standardization are needed nationwide in how information on elder abuse is collected and how state laws are created.” The findings appear in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
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