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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).
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).
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 those ADL-impaired elderly people living in community settings, 37 percent report that they need help but do not receive it or receive less help than is needed (Stone, 2000).
Most long-term care for community-dwelling elders is provided in a traditional home setting, either in an older person’s own home, with or without a spouse, or in the home of a close relative.
In 1999, another 500,000 elderly people were living in assisted living facilities (Hawes et al., 1999).
Among people age 85 and over, 21 percent were in nursing homes in 1995 and 49 percent were community residents with long-term care needs (Alecxih et al., 1997).
No major foundation has identified this field as one of its priorities, and the federal investment has been modest at best.
For example, fewer than 15 studies on elder mistreatment have been funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) since 1990, and support from other agencies has been even less substantial.