South Carolina has the worst elder-abuse protections of any state in the country, according to a new online report.
A Wallethub study showed out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, South Carolina ranked dead last in protections against elder abuse.
South Carolina ranked poorly when it comes to complaints of abuse, neglect and exploitation among residents 65 and older, expenditures on elder-abuse protection, the number of eldercare organizations and services, quality of nursing homes and other measures used to gauge the state’s level elder-abuse protection.
The S.C. Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging, however, questions how the study calculated its rankings. Dale Watson, the state long-term care ombudsman from the Office on Aging, noted that South Carolina was one of the first states to adopt a wide-sweeping law on adult protection, which addresses elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
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“I certainly don’t want folks to feel that people are not trying to address the issue of elder abuse in South Carolina,” Watson said. “We know we have issues, but we are working together to resolve issues.”
The state has a cooperative network that includes caregivers and facilities, law enforcement and the Department of Social Services that works together to address elder abuse issues, Watson said.
And if the South Carolina is criticized for low expenditures for elder-abuse prevention – the WalletHub study ranks it 35th nationally – that’s in part a product low federal funding because it is a small state, Watson said.
U.S. adults aged 65 and older are expected to make up more than a fifth of the country’s population by 2029, according to WalletHub, a personal-finance website that conducted the elder-abuse study. The majority of elder-abuse cases go unreported, according to WalletHub.
Watson said that if the number of elder abuse complaints in South Carolina is high, it is because residents are strongly encouraged to report their complaints.
“You have a right to complain” is a message her office and others actively preach in eldercare facilities, Watson said. “These are your rights, and let us help you with it.”
Here’s how South Carolina stands on some key metrics studied by WalletHub:
Elder-abuse protections in South Carolina (1=Best; 25=Avg.)
- 50th – Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints per Resident Aged 65+
- 35th – Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention per Resident Aged 65+
- 28th – Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman-Program Funding per Resident Aged 65+
- 41st – Number of Eldercare Organizations & Services per Resident Aged 65+
- 38th – Number of Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per Resident Aged 65+
- 34th – Nursing-Homes Quality