As the number of Americans 60 and older rises, the rate of violence against them is rising even faster, according to a report Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report estimates that the rate of nonfatal assaults against men 60 and older increased by 75.4 percent between 2002 and 2016. The rate of nonfatal assaults against women of that age rose by 35.4 percent from 2007 to 2016.
The homicide rate for men grew by 7.1 percent from 2010 to 2016, the CDC says. But the homicide rate for women 60 and older went down, by 9.9 percent, from 2002 to 2016.
Fifty-eight percent of the assailants were related to or knew the victim. For homicides, 46 percent of crimes were committed by a spouse or partner, parent, child, relative or friend, the CDC says.
“I think that this is the tip of the iceberg,” Julie Schoen, deputy director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, said of the assault data. People are afraid to report abuse, she said.
“People are so afraid if they call out a family member or caregiver they will lose their independence,” she told AARP. “If you lose something and your caregiver can’t stay there, you can lose your home.”
Although the aging of America’s population gets a lot of attention, the CDC and others say violence prevention for this group deserves more awareness. The annual average growth rate in nonfatal assaults among older adults, per 100,000 population, is growing faster than the population growth rate, lead researcher Joseph Logan told AARP.
A public health concern
The CDC views violence as a public health problem, acknowledging that it has not always been recognized this way.