Cases of elder abuse are on the rise in the country. Elder law is very definitive when it comes to protecting seniors in New York and in the entire nation, but some abuse cases are falling through the cracks because the crime is underreported. Adult Protective Services among the states identified more than 235,000 abuse victims last year with some of those were termed self-neglect — when seniors don’t have anyone to care for them and they have lost the capacity to care for themselves.

There are many forms of elder abuse. They can be very obvious such as physical abuse or less so such as emotional or financial abuse. But there is also the abuse of neglect — when seniors who are incapacitated do have family members, but no one bothers to help. Experts say the term, self neglect, is a misnomer since seniors in these cases believe they have no help available to them. Self-neglect includes being unable to provide for their own basic needs; sadly, as the population ages, it is becoming more of an issue.

But the good news is that elder abuse is being talked about today. It is no longer being swept under the rug like a dirty secret. Seniors are being encouraged to report abuses and to seek help when they can’t provide for themselves. States are beginning to track cases and slowly but surely, challenges are being addressed although experts say there is a long way to go.

Elder abuse in any form is heinous and seniors or their family members should understand that there is no shame in reporting abuse. Nor is there shame in seeking the advice and guidance of a New York attorney experienced in elder law. Abuse victims may have the right to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.