Quarantine likely has a hand in causing the uptick because people cannot visit their elderly loved ones to check on them.
Another concern brought on by COVID-19 is the rise in reported cases of elder abuse.
Experts say it could be because of quarantine and limitations on visiting facilities and homes, making it easier for abuse to go undetected.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of abuse cases among elderly people has increased, according to John Skelton, owner of Senior Helpers in Tempe.
He says each year in Maricopa County, Arizona’s Adult Protective Services handles as many as 10,000 cases.
“The biggest thing right now with COVID, a lot of our seniors are isolated and they’re not able to go out in the world and see the usual people that they see. Whether it’s family, friends, doctors — it’s the isolation that’s leading to an increase in elderly abuse,” Skelton said.
The abuse comes in many forms, he says, the worst being sexual and physical abuse. However, it can be a lot more subtle like financial, mental and emotional abuse.
“Whether they’re home or in a facility, it’s usually the people that are around them the most that are handling them on a daily basis and a lot of times the abuse gets recognized by family members or a doctor that sees the client on a regular basis,” Skelton said.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office released a statement on the growing issue.
“We work in collaboration with other agencies tackling issues targeting Arizona’s seniors through our Task Force Against Senior Abuse (TASA). Within the task force, attorneys, investigators, and outreach specialists partner with leadership in the public and private sector to combat elder abuse, fraud and exploitation.”
Skelton says that there are ways to communicate any issues with a loved one, saying to ask them directly how they are being treated, but privately.