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Conference To Address Problem Of Elder Abuse In Indiana

Nathan Colquhoun

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) is gathering stakeholders for a conference this Thursday that it calls a “first step” in addressing the growing problem of elder abuse. The meeting will involve healthcare workers, attorneys, law enforcement, and state officials.

Indiana is unique in that its Adult Protective Services are provided by prosecutors at the local level.

Last year, more than ten thousand elder abuse cases were handled by just 41 Adult Protective Services investigators statewide. And the Hoosier population 65 and older is projected to increase 70 percent in the next 15 years.

Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council Deputy Director Suzanne O’Malley said she isn’t ready to say exactly how many investigators are needed, though she hopes to have an answer by the start of the legislative session.

“We don’t want to just throw things out,” she said. “I’d love to say we need two hundred, but in reality we have to have a really good basis for why we need a particular number.”

O’Malley said prosecuting elder abuse cases is difficult because the victims sometimes aren’t competent or because admitting to the abuse can be embarrassing.

She said another issue is that 90 percent of elder abusers are family members.

“The elder person may feel trapped in the relationship just as a domestic violence victim may feel trapped in the relationship,” O’Malley said. ”They may have no place else to turn; family members may cut them off from the rest of the family.”

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.