【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.88: Elder Abuse

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

Elder abuse became an important social issue in the United States in about 1990 when I published my first book "Healthcare Economics in US." The current situation can be found on the website of the National Council on Aging. The website states, "Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities."

In Japan, we also often hear news of cases of elder abuse. Therefore, the government conducts a nationwide survey on elder abuse every year. In March 2018, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced the results of the survey on elder abuse in 2016. Elder abuse is roughly divided into two types: abuse by staff in long-term care facilities and abuse by family members. Figure 1 shows the number of incidents of counseling for or reporting of suspected abuse cases received by municipalities that oversee long-term care facilities and the number of cases deemed by municipalities and prefectures to be abusive. Figure 2 shows the number of elder abuse cases by family members.

While the types of elder abuse include physical abuse, neglect/abandonment, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and economic exploitation, the most common type is physical abuse, followed by neglect/abandonment. As shown in Figure 3, the number of elderly deaths caused by abuse has not increased, but as seen in Figure 1 and Figure 2, the number of elder abuse cases as a whole has increased rapidly.

Figure 1 Number of elder abuse cases in long-term care facilities


(Source)Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare

Figure 2 Number of elder abuse cases caused by family member


Figure 3 Number of deaths due to elder abuse


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