How elder abuse is becoming a growing problem in Arizona

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As part of the Arizona Horizon special, we look at issues facing older Arizonans. We start with the growing problem of elder abuse, and to learn more, we spoke with Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel and Anita Norton, the Maricopa Association of Government’s Regional Domestic Violence Chair.

“Unfortunately it’s not just children that we hear about being abused its’ the elderly. They’re in a vulnerable position which is why we call it vulnerable adult abuse, it’s also people who have a disability things like that and often times it’s those that are entrusted with their care who inflict that abuse,” Adel said.

Norton said elder abuse does not just include physical, but also mental, psychological, emotional, financial. Sexual abuse is a factor as well, which is also on the rise. There has been a 150% increase in this over the last decade with adults.

“We’re working with prosecutors, judges, law enforcement agencies and other agencies that provide services for older adults abused…this is something that has been worked on for years and years and we just updated the protocols so that its getting everybody on board to provide better protections and hopefully end this abuse,” Norton said.

Adel said her office is collaborating with partners on this issue and it takes everyone being on the same page for this issue to be solved. Adel said the office is working on investigating and prosecuting these cases in a uniform manner.

Norton agreed there have been too many people working alone on this issue and not working together on a coordinated plan to combat elder abuse.

“You have that and then the silence that comes with this abuse, especially to family members it’s a hard thing for people to admit, we have to really get educated to combat this,” Norton said.

Allister Adel, Maricopa County Attorney
Anita Norton, Maricopa Association of Government's Regional Domestic Violence Chair

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