Thirteen years ago, June 15 was designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by the United Nations. This far-reaching issue affects many individuals and families, from aging people in Delaware to seniors across the world. There have been many efforts to change and enforce elder law in hopes of supporting seniors who are being victimized.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in 10 older adults is a victim of elder abuse. Additionally, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, five of every six cases of elder abuse are unreported. The situation is even worse for financial abuse, where only one in 14 cases are reported.

The Elder Justice Act was passed in 2010 in hopes of coordinating a federal response to this issue. The Department of Justice recently conducted the largest elder fraud enforcement action in the nation’s history, known as the Elder Fraud Sweep. Following the sweep, 200 defendants faced charges related to elder law issues. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is also refining a better reporting and data collection system related to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation cases.

There have also been recent laws addressing this issue, such as the bipartisan Senior Safe Act, which protects people in the financial industry from liability if they report elder abuse to a federal agency. The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act was also put in place to provide the justice system with additional resources to hold elder abusers accountable. Despite these efforts, elder abuse still happens throughout Delaware. Those who need support in addressing these issues legally should work with a lawyer who has experience in elder law.