Abuse of the elderly does not get as much press coverages as similar crimes, such as child abuse, but there appears to be significant numbers of cases in Costa Rica.
The Hospital Nacional de Geriatría y Gerontología reported that there have been 249 persons treated this year that were considered elderly abuse patients.
Physicians noted that not all abuse is physical. They cited psychological abuse, abuse by neglect and even sexual abuse of patients who mainly are 75 years and older. Taking the money or goods of the elderly without their permission also is considered abuse.
The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social outlined
the situation here as part of marking an international day against elderly abuse.
The description of a typical victim is grim. At least 70 percent are female and many have an emotional tie to their abuser, who may well be a family member. In many cases the family has a history of types of abuse. Frequently either the elderly individual or the care giver suffers from depression. Sometimes alcohol or drug abuse is involved.
There have been several murders this year in which offspring killed a parent or a grandparent to obtain money for drugs.
Vilma García, who specializes in adult care for the Caja, urged the public to be aware and to report possible cases of elderly abuse.