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Elder abuse on the rise

On Wednesday a Rowan County woman, Elaine Bentley was arrested for allegedly taking thousands of dollars from an elderly woman she worked for.

That abuse is becoming a growing problem and to combat the issue on Monday the University of Kentucky will host a conference on elder financial abuse, hoping to shed light on something that could face the 39 million older Americans in this country.

Our golden years, it should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment, but often times elder Americans are the target of abuse.

"People need to know elder abuse happens and it's the last of the abuses we think about," said Dr. Pamela Teaster, the Director of the Kentucky Justice Center for Elders and Vulnerable Adults.

In March 90 year old Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney helped shed light on elder abuse, testifying on Capital Hill and revealing that he was a victim, and he's not alone.

Each year five percent of older Americans experience some form of abuse in this country, many times it goes unreported.

Dr. Pamela Teaster is working to shed light on a once taboo subject.

"Isolation is one of the hallmarks for abuse, abuse is typically done by family members. Believe it or not the major perpetrator is family members, but it can be anybody anywhere," said Dr. Teaster.

In Kentucky the numbers of elder abuse cases have jumped, in 2006 there were nearly 9400 hundred cases reported, last year there were nearly 14,000.

Money is often the target for elder abuse.

Dr. Teaster says a recent study by Met Life found each year elders lose billions.

"Older adults have the lion share of the wealth in this country so no surprise somebody wants to get it," said Dr. Teaster.

With an aging population and people living much longer, abuse at an older age is likely to happen more often.

Dr. Teaster hopes talking about the issue will bring the attention needed to stop the growing problem and if you think its happening speak up.

"If you suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation by law because Kentucky is an any person state you are supposed to report it," said Dr. Teaster.

The Broken Trust Conference is Monday at the University of Kentucky Medical Center Auditorium.

The conference begins at 8:30 and the public is welcome, but there is a registration fee.

Mickey Rooney will speak live via satellite at 1 pm.

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