South Carolina ranks dead last in protections against elder abuse, study finds

Massachusetts came in first in an analysis of all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

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In yet another depressing ranking for South Carolina, a new report ranks the state 51st in protecting against elder abuse across 14 measurements.

The study, which was released today by finance website WalletHub, compares all 50 states and Washington, D.C. on three categories related to the protection of Americans aged 65 or older: prevalence, resources, and protection.

On "prevalence," which measures the share of "elder-abuse, gross-neglect, and exploitation complaints," S.C. tied California at 50.



The Palmetto State also tied five other states (Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Montana, and North Dakota) for the lowest total expenditure on elder abuse prevention. 
Source: WalletHub

The most common types of elder abuse are neglect and financial, according to Florida International University social work professor Rich Beaulaurier, who spoke to Wallethub for the report.

"Both have been increasing in recent years," he said. "There has been a huge increase in mechanisms to scam or exploit older people out of the money and savings. Medicare and bank fraud, mortgage fraud, and other scams target older people differentially."

South Carolinians received 3.3 million robocalls per day last month, according to robocall-blocking software YouMail.

In May, Gov. Henry McMaster signed a law meant to curb a popular subset of fraudulent calls in South Carolina. The law targets a practice known as "spoofing," defined in the bill as a scam call that shows "misleading, false, or inaccurate caller identification information on the receiving party's telephone."

Kathleen Wilber, a professor of health services administration at the University of Southern California who also spoke to Wallethub for the report, says aggressive policies that go after scammers are helpful, but clarified that protecting against elder abuse is a multi-pronged effort that should include better monitoring of abuse in facilities and more accessible mental health care for both the elderly and their caregivers.

"It is not uncommon for caregivers to lack the capacity and ability to support frail older people — sometimes we assume the kids are the caregivers when they have historically been receiving care from mom or dad because of their own disabilities," she said.

The five states that ranked best for protections against elderly abuse are Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, and Arizona.

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