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UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH – A new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh published in The Gerontologist suggests that African American senior citizens are at a much higher risk of psychological and financial elder abuse. The study focused on over 900 adults aged 60 and older in Allegheny County, PA. In interviews with the respondents, researchers found that black seniors were twice as likely to suffer psychological abuse and five times as likely to suffer financial abuse as non-black seniors. This study did not look at incidents of wrongful death due to nursing home negligence or elder abuse. Nearly one fourth of black seniors in the survey reported psychological mistreatment since turning 60 and about 16% reported incidents in the previous six months. Among non-black respondents, the percent reporting psychological elder abuse was about half of that—13% since turning 60 and 7% in the past six months. Psychological mistreatment, for the purposes of this study, was defined as being insulted, yelled at, or threatened with injury, neglect, or being sent to a nursing care facility. The numbers for financial elder abuse of African American seniors are even more startling. The researchers found that while only 2% of non-black seniors reported being cheated out of money in the past six months, more than five times as many black seniors (nearly 13%) reported financial elder abuse during the same period of time. About 23% of black seniors reported being cheated since turning 60, compared to only 8% of non-blacks. The researchers defined financial abuse as having checks or money stolen, financial tampering, and being made to sign financial documents the seniors didn’t understand. While this particular study was confined to one county, researchers concluded that the racial disparity in psychological and financial elder abuse could not be explained by other statistical factors like age, wealth, or education. This suggests that the increased abuse of African American seniors may be an outgrowth of pure prejudice. The lead researcher, Scott Beach of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research, is planning follow-up studies in other parts of the nation. If you or a loved one has suffered elder abuse of any kind in Alabama, please contact the Mobile elder abuse and nursing home negligence attorneys of Long & Long today to find out about your legal rights to fair compensation.

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