Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) was named the sole grant recipient to become the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), a vital clearinghouse created by the Administration on Aging (AoA), part of the Administration on Community Living (ACL) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The $2.2 million three-year grant funds NCEA’s programs which includes technical assistance and training to states and community-based organizations to develop effective prevention, intervention and response efforts addressing elder abuse. The NCEA will also conduct research and advocate for policy changes on behalf of older adults.

“One in 10 Americans over age 60 suffer some form of elder abuse – that is 5 million seniors each year,” said Laura Mosqueda, MD, chair of the department of Family Medicine and Geriatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director for the National Center on Elder Abuse. “We see elder abuse, neglect and exploitation as one of the most pressing civil rights issues facing our aging society, and we’re proud to be named the National Center on Elder Abuse to help educate, inform and address the injustices inflicted on our nation’s seniors.”

Elder abuse is a growing problem as Americans are living longer. In fact, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day and people over the age of 85 represent the fastest growing segment of our society. With this growing senior population at the same time the number of people who will care for our frail elders is decreasing, the problem of elder abuse will only grow. Elder abuse is manifest in many forms: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect and abandonment. Perpetrators can be family members or spouses, health-care workers and others preying upon the vulnerabilities of aged people.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) will be spearheaded by Dr. Mosqueda and the team at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in collaboration with the USC Davis School of Gerontology, the American Bar Association and other organizations dedicated to supporting an aging America. The NCEA will be dedicated to increasing identification and reporting of elder abuse; improving the aging community’s ability to detect, intervene and prevent elder abuse; and stimulating sustainable and innovative systems.

“This prestigious designation underscores Keck Medicine of USC’s commitment to the health, safety and wellness of our growing population of older Americans,” said Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health which oversees Keck Medicine of USC, the university-based medical system. “As a health system dedicated to education, research and clinical care, we are perfectly matched to administrate the National Center on Elder Abuse.”

“With the leadership of Dr. Mosqueda, the National Center on Elder Abuse at Keck School of Medicine of USC becomes a beacon to all of us as we age and face the potential darker issues of getting older,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “We will be the entity others look to when they need state-of-the-art information and we will be the leaders that push the field forward through education, research, advocacy and other programs to end elder abuse.”

A top-ranked medical system in several specialty areas, Keck Medicine of USC was ranked No. 33 in this year’s U.S. News and World Report “Best Hospitals” issue.

by Sherri Snelling