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By the Numbers: Elder Abuse in Wisconsin – 2021

Elder abuse is a problem in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. Many vulnerable individuals face exploitation from family members, caregivers, nursing home staff, and others in their community. Despite awareness campaigns and legal changes designed to make reporting suspected abuse and neglect easier, elder abuse is still a significant problem.

The attorneys at Boller & Vaughan are dedicated to fighting for elder abuse victims and their families. We have helped many Wisconsin residents seek justice and compensation for the neglect and abuse of a loved one. If you suspect elder abuse or want information about your legal options, schedule a consultation by calling 608-268-0268 or contacting us online.

Elder Abuse in Wisconsin: 2021 Statistics

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the number of reported cases of elder abuse has risen drastically since 2001. In that year, there were 3,251 reported cases. By 2018, that number had grown to 8,803. In 2021, there were over 10,000 reported incidents.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services releases an annual report on elder abuse and neglect in the state. This report provides a summary of elder abuse data gathered from county agencies throughout the state.

In 2021, there were 10,712 reported incidents of elder abuse or neglect in Wisconsin. The largest number of these incidents (44.8 percent) involved self-neglect, and a further 9 percent of reports were for neglect by others. Approximately one-fifth of reports (21.6 percent) involved financial exploitation. 

Most abuse and neglect incidents occur at the victim’s place of residence, whether that’s their own home or a nursing home or assisted living facility. In 2021, the percentage of incidents that occurred at the victim’s residence was 87.8 percent. 

The report provides demographic details on the victims of reported abuse or neglect. Approximately 56 percent of the adults at risk were female and 44 percent were male. Approximately one-third of cases involved an individual between 60 and 69 years old, and a further third involved an adult between 70 and 79 years old. A quarter of reports involved 80 to 89-year-olds, and the remaining reports were for individuals 90 years old or older. 

About 90 percent of reported incidents were not life-threatening. However, 34 percent of incidents that involved a death were determined to be related to the reported incident, and in half (50 percent) of those cases, the death was determined to be directly caused by abuse or neglect.

Common Signs of Elder Abuse

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, here are some of the most common signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation:

  • Unexplained bruises, pressure marks, lacerations, or burns
  • Signs of constraint
  • Broken communication or mobility devices
  • Broken bones or unexplained wounds
  • Poor hygiene
  • Appearing scared or anxious
  • Depression, panic, or emotional distress
  • Unusual passivity or helplessness
  • Sudden changes in financial assets
  • Adding new authorized names to bank accounts
  • Unexplained changes to wills and other legal documents
  • Lack of access to food and water
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Unfilled prescriptions

If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, report it to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Then, consider contacting an elder abuse attorney to learn about your legal options to seek justice.

Boller & Vaughan Advocates for Elder Abuse Victims

Elder abuse is a tragically common problem in Wisconsin. Many individuals experience neglect and abuse at the hands of caregivers and even family members. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities see frequent cases of elder abuse perpetrated by employees and other residents. In many cases, victims are unable or unwilling to report abuse. Family members who suspect abuse often don’t know what to do.
At Boller & Vaughan, we are dedicated to helping protect Wisconsin residents from neglect and abuse as much as possible. We have helped many families pursue legal cases against nursing homes, doctors, caregivers, and others who have abused nursing home residents. To schedule a consultation at our Madison office, call 608-268-0268 or fill out our online form.