As a state with a large number of men and women over 65, the financial website Wallet Hub says Montana comes in next to last in the entire country when it comes to protecting our elderly population from abuse.

KGVO spoke with analyst Jill Gonzalez about the issue of providing protection for those over 65.

“Elder abuse is a real and growing issue and some states are fighting other harder than others to stop it,” said Gonzalez. “We looked at 16 different indicators of elder abuse protection in three categories. So first of all, we just looked at the sheer prevalence of elder abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation complaints to actual financial elder abuse laws in place.”

Gonzalez said she found it surprising that a state with such a high population of senior citizens could provide so little protection for them.

“Montana is definitely important to look at because it is one of the states where the age skews older, so this should be of the utmost concern,” she said. “Yet, it has some of the highest elder abuse, gross neglect and exploitation complaints per capita, and also the lowest total expenditures on Elder Abuse Prevention in the country. So those two things should simply not be happening.”

Gonzalez said the Montana Legislature needs to make elder abuse protection a high priority.

“The resources are there,” she said. “I mean, there are high expenditures spent on prevention and on legal assistance development and on program funding, but that's not really translating to laws. So there needs to be actual financial, elderly abuse laws, and more abuse working groups, more laws that are allowing things like surveillance cameras in nursing homes, and task forces and elder abuse shelters. The resources are there, but there's just not really anything being done with them.”

Gonzalez pointed out the states that scored highest in the Wallet Hub study, such as Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Vermont.

“They have great resources available to them,” she said. So high expenditures on Elder Abuse Prevention, more long term care ombudsman program funding per residents that are aged 65 and up, and those protections are in place. Everything from financial elderly abuse laws, to elder abuse working groups, to good quality nursing homes.”

Only Utah scored lower than Montana in the Wallet Hub study.

Read the Wallet Hub study here.

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