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Good news!  New York ranks 11th best among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in a new analysis of states with the best elder-abuse protections.  In a new Wallethub study, New York is #1 in the presence of elder-abuse forensic centers, has the 2nd fewest elder-abuse, gross-neglect & exploitation complaints, 9th in the number of certified volunteer ombudsmen.  New York ranks slightly above average in nursing-homes quality and total expenditures on elder-abuse prevention.

That is not to say we don't have elder abuse here.  A close relative recently had a short term (two or three weeks) stay in a local nursing home where I witnessed elder abuse and a heaping dollop of elder neglect.  This has been on my mind because i just received a substantial bill for the piece that Medicare didn't cover for her, and sending money to this facility gives me a bad feeling, since it was abundantly clear that making money is the only thing they do well there.  45 minutes to get help going to the bathroom even when family members were there to advocate for her... what about the residents who didn't have advocates?  Did they ever get to go to the bathroom?

The top ten states with the best elder-abuse protections are Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona, Vermont, Iowa, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and West Virginia.  At the bottom of the list (from worst to less worst) are South Carolina, Wyoming, New Jersey, California, and Montana.  Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Arizona spend the most on elder-abuse prevention.  South Carolina, North Dakota, Montana, Maine, Kansas, and Georgia spend the least (per resident 65 years old and higher).

The lowest number of complaints about elder-abuse, gross-neglect & exploitation complaints were in New York, Rhode Island, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Arizona.  But that doesn't mean it's not happening there.  I am certainly part of the problem, because I didn't report what I saw or sue the facility.  My relative was in horrible shape when we finally extracted her from the facility, and it was only due to the caring staff at the place where she now lives that she came back at all.  Frankly what they did was a miracle, because the nursing home couldn't even give her water to keep her hydrated, which caused obvious physical and mental health problems.

I was so exhausted and relieved that we got her out of there that I wanted nothing more to do with them.  Probably a bad attitude, because plenty of residents there are no doubt being abused and neglected.  But you have to figure there are many people nation-wide who do not report these things.

According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center only one out of 14 elder-abuse incidents are brought to the attention of authorities, and only one out of 25 cases of financial exploitation.  Studies show that between 7% and 10% of elderly people have suffered from abuse at least once in the past year.  The center estimates that 1-2 million U.S. citizens 65 years of age or older have been mistreated, exploited or injured by a caregiver.

This week the story of a Netherlands man who lost his lawsuit to officially lower his age by 20 years was in the news.  He claimed that he is in great shape and feels 20 years younger than his actual 69 years, and complained of age discrimination and difficulties in finding a job because of his age.  He said being 69 also hurt his dating prospects.

"When I'm on Tinder and it says I'm 69, I don't get an answer," he said. "When I'm 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position."

When you look at the statistics on elder abuse you have to sympathize with his plea.  Getting old is hard enough without younger people taking advantage of you, neglecting, or actively abusing you.  The idea of aging and dying with dignity is not something many people experience any more.  The court said that he "is at liberty to feel 20 years younger," but added that a legal age change would have "undesirable legal and societal implications".

You can't win for losing... not changing his age could also have undesirable legal and social implications that ruin what is left of his life.

Growing up, I often heard it said that a difference between eastern and western cultures is that the elderly are revered in Asian cultures, while in America they are discounted.  I don't know about the Asians, but age discrimination is a given in America.  All you have to do is know an elderly person who can no longer care for him or herself (or even those who can), or -- worse -- be one.

Still it is comforting to know that in New York, at least, you have a better chance of being treated decently.  Note to self... don't retire in South Carolina.

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