In 1999, another 500,000 elderly people were living in assisted living facilities (Hawes et al., 1999).
The number of cases of elder mistreatment will undoubtedly increase over the next several decades, as the population ages.
Yet little is known about its characteristics, causes, or consequences or about effective means of prevention or management.
Of the estimated 12.8 million Americans reporting need for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs—eating, dressing, bathing, transferring between the bed and a chair, toileting, controlling bladder and bowel) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs—preparing meals, performing housework, taking drugs, going on errands, managing finances, using a telephone), 57 percent (7.3 million people) were over the age of 65 (Administration on Aging, 1997).
Dementia is present in approximately 5 to 10 percent of persons age 65 and older and 30 to 39 percent of persons age 85 and older (Rice et al., 2001; Henderson, 1998).
Among people age 75 and older in 1999, 70 percent described their health as good or excellent (Eberhardt et al., 2001).
Inevitably, however, the aging of the population is also associated with increases in age-related diseases and disabilities.Among people age 85 and older in 1999, 33 percent reported themselves to be in fair or poor health, 84 percent had disabilities involving mobility (unpublished data Natonal Center for Health Statistics, 2002), and 16 percent had Alzheimer’s disease (Brookmeyer et al., 1998).Given the projected growth in the elderly population, long-term care for elderly people with disabilities has become an increasingly urgent policy concern (Institute of Medicine, 2001; Stone, 2000).The aging of the population of the United States is a well-recognized demographic fact.The life expectancy of people born in the United States has been rising throughout the past century.The potential pool of adult children who can serve as caregivers is already decreasing, as a result of a variety of demographic trends, including divorce, smaller families, and increased workforce participation (Himes et al., 1996).These factors increase the pressures on families caring for their elderly relatives and also are likely to increase the demand for institutional care.As a result, elder mistreatment research has thus far been confined to a small community of investigators who have produced a modest body of knowledge concerning the phenomenology, magnitude, etiology, and consequences of elder mistreatment.Preventive and remedial interventions have been unsystematic, episodic, and poorly evaluated.The proportion of the population age 65 and older has increased dramatically since 1950.Between 19, the total population of the country increased by 87 percent, the population age 65 and older increased by 188 percent, and the population 85 and older increased by 635 percent (Eberhardt et al., 2001, Hetzel and Smith, 2001).