A new effort in Wisconsin will encourage the public to report cases of elder abuse occurring at Medicaid-funded and other senior living and care facilities, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced Jan. 5 at a meeting of his Task Force on Elder Abuse.

“As this task force continues to work on improving outcomes for the state’s growing population of elderly, we need more people to come forward and report when they see or experience elder abuse,” he said.

The new campaign by the Wisconsin Department of Justice will educate the public about elder abuse and inform them about the state’s Medicaid Fraud and Elder Abuse Hotline, the department said. Public service announcements will be broadcast on more than 200 radio stations from Jan. 15 to March 11.

Schimel cited statistics from the National Adult Protective Services Association that one in nine seniors has reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the past 12 months. “But we also know that elder abuse is drastically underreported,” he said. “With respect to financial crimes [perpetrated] against the elderly alone, it is estimated that just one in 44 cases is ever reported,” Schimel added.

The attorney general’s task force, announced in August, is developing strategies to address barriers to investigating and prosecuting cases of elder abuse, working to strengthen protections for older adults and creating recommendations to improve cross-system communications. Members include representatives from senior living communities and senior citizen advocacy organizations as well as the state Board on Aging and Long Term Care, Department of Justice, Department of Health Services, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Department of Financial Institutions, state legislature, law enforcement, court system, Wisconsin Bankers Association, crime victim services and adult protective services.