The Attorney General’s Task Force on Elder Abuse had its first meeting Monday. The discussion highlighted how various public servants—such as prosecutors, law enforcement, and long-term care providers—connect with older adults experiencing abuse, and how those groups can work together going forward.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elder abuse encompasses physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect and abandonment. It is a broad issue that impacts physical, emotional and financial well-being.
The task force is made up of health care, law enforcement, and banking representatives, including the Wisconsin Bankers Association.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said the task force is about creating a coordinated plan to mitigate elder abuse before Wisconsin’s senior population gets too large.
"We’re thinking ahead, we’re not waiting till 10-20 years from now when the numbers do start to overwhelm us and we don’t have a plan," Schimel said. "We’re working to have a plan now."
The state Department of Health Services predicts that between 2015 and 2040 the population of those ages 65 and older will increase by about 72 percent.
A press release announcing the meeting stated the task force will be "charged with compiling the resources and knowledge of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to study the impact of elder abuse in Wisconsin and assess ways to improve outcomes for this growing population of citizens."
During the meeting, Schimel also discussed the misuse of prescription opioids in regards to people above 55 years old.
"Here’s a dose of reality: just last year, more than 4,000 Wisconsin residents aged 55 or older were hospitalized for opioid dependence or prescription opioid poisoning," Schimel said.
In conjunction with the Task Force on Elder Abuse's first meeting, Schimel announced an extension of his "Dose of Reality" campaign specific to curbing opioid abuse among the state's older populations.
Schimel announced The Task Force on Elder Abuse's formation in August 2017. The group plans to meet quarterly.
This article was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.