As elder abuse cases increase in Pa., state launches awareness campaign

Gov. Tom Corbett has declared June "Elder Abuse Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.

"I often say elder abuse is America's dirty little secret. When you look at child abuse, domestic violence and other things, it really is an area that, for whatever reason, has been largely ignored," said Joe Snyder, director of older adult protective services at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

Pennsylvanians reported more than 18,500 cases of elder abuse last year.

"The numbers are high, they continue to grow," said Brian Duke, secretary of the state Department of Aging. "Over the last five years, we've seen an increase in the growth overall."

The rising volume of claims does not mean that these numbers tell the whole story.

"We're aware there's a lot of under-reporting and non-reporting of abuse," said Duke. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention think that as much as 20 percent of abuse is actually reported."

This story was published on Newsworks.org on June 19, 2014.