EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- More elder abuse cases are being reported than ever before. According to the department of health services, the elder abuse reports among seniors have increased 160 percent in the last 16 years.
Attorney General Brad Schimel was in Eau Claire on Thursday discussing these latest statistics with the elder abuse task force. Schimel says the reason for the large increase is unknown but factors like the internet and a rising senior population could play a role.
The Attorney General's Task Force on Elder Abuse has been working for the past year on protecting seniors in Wisconsin. "We're all working together to complete our resources to measure what is happening out there, to get a really good picture of exactly what's happening with the exploitation of our seniors,” said Brad Schimel the Wisconsin attorney general.
Many agencies are working together to put an end to all forms of abuse including physical, emotional, neglect and financial exploitation. "Identify how we can improve consumer protections and identify how to improve outcomes and address barriers to investigation and prosecution of those who abuse our seniors because the longer they get away with it the more they're going to do it,” Schimel said.
In the last year the task force has been raising awareness and even launched a new website, to help seniors report abuse, but often that abuse is hard to prove. "We know from the injuries we find we can know from what happened to their bank account or things missing from their apartment or their room, we know that someone stole from them but they're not able to help us communicate it,” Schimel said.
The task force is discussing new legislative proposals to help give seniors a voice in their court case. "Often times they can't be a very good witness in their case, time is not on our side as they get older and they're difficulties progress, they become less able,” Schimel said.
They are speaking up for seniors who can't speak for themselves. “I'm fortunate to be their voice and they really need a voice to know that someone cares, there is someone they can call and get that support that they need,” said Heather Bruemmer, the State Ombudsman, Board of Aging and Long Term Care.
Although it is not known whether more elder abuse is happening or just more abuse is being reported, Schimel says the leading cause is financial exploitation of seniors.