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South Carolina Ranks Lowest for Protecting Seniors

In three key factors used to evaluate how well seniors age 65 and up are protected, South Carolina ranks dead last in a study that examined all fifty states and Washington D.C. Taken together, these three factors—prevalence, resources, and protection—add up to a bad situation.

The Charleston City Paper reports in its recent article, “South Carolina ranks dead last in protections against elder abuse, study finds,” that the study was released by finance website WalletHub.

By contrast, Massachusetts took the top spot in the analysis.

In the prevalence category, which gauges the share of “elder-abuse, gross-neglect, and exploitation complaints,” South Carolina tied California at 50. The Palmetto State also tied five other states—Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Montana, and North Dakota—for the lowest total expenditure on elder abuse prevention.

The most common types of elder abuse are neglect and financial, according to Florida International University social work Professor Rich Beaulaurier, who spoke to WalletHub for the report.

“Both have been increasing in recent years,” he said. “There has been a huge increase in mechanisms to scam or exploit older people out of their money and savings. Medicare and bank fraud, mortgage fraud, and other scams target older people differentially.”

The report noted that South Carolinians received 3.3 million robocalls per day in November 2018, according to robocall-blocking software YouMail.

In May 2018, Governor Henry McMaster signed legislation designed to thwart a popular subset of fraudulent calls in South Carolina. The law targets a practice known as “spoofing,” defined in the bill as a scam call that shows “misleading, false, or inaccurate caller identification information on the receiving party’s telephone.”

Kathleen Wilber, a professor of health services administration at the University of Southern California, who also was interviewed by WalletHub for the report, remarked that aggressive policies that go after scammers can help. However, protecting against elder abuse is a multi-faceted task that should include better monitoring of abuse in facilities and more accessible mental health care for both the elderly and their caregivers.

“It is not uncommon for caregivers to lack the capacity and ability to support frail older people—sometimes we assume the kids are the caregivers when they have historically been receiving care from mom or dad because of their own disabilities,” she said.

Seniors in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, and Arizona enjoy far better care. They are the states that rank best, when it comes to protecting seniors against elder abuse.

Reference: Charleston City Paper (December 4, 2018) “South Carolina ranks dead last in protections against elder abuse, study finds”

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