As the nation ages, more focus must be placed on providing good quality of life for senior citizens.

The baby boom following World War II and today’s longer life expectancy triggered an increase in the aging population nationwide.

Experts predict the United States population age 65 and older will reach nearly 52 million this year, and continue to balloon afterward.

Unfortunately, experts also estimate that one in every 10 Americans age 65 or older who lives at home will become a victim of abuse. As it is, only one in every 24 cases of elder abuse is detected or reported.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has worked with law enforcement agencies in Kansas and beyond to better combat physical and financial abuse of seniors.

Schmidt recently gathered with officials involved in joint efforts between federal, state and local authorities in announcing details of a coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases.

Currently president of the National Association of Attorneys General, Schmidt is at the forefront of an initiative called “Protecting America’s Seniors: Attorneys General United Against Elder Abuse,” which will include a national summit on the subject April 17 and 18 in Manhattan, Kan.

Stepped-up legal protection is critical as the nation grays. At the same time, senior citizens and their families also must do their part. For example, it’s important to be vigilant against unscrupulous financial schemes ranging from mail and telemarketing scams to identity theft and theft by guardians.

With financial matters, Schmidt’s office recommends using great care in placing someone in a position of power over money. Seniors and trusted relatives should consult with a competent attorney before entering into such agreements, and make sure any future assistance comes from someone truly skilled at managing financial matters.

Everyone should be aware of the potential for elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Anyone who suspects physical or financial abuse of a senior citizen should contact their local authorities, or the Medicaid Fraud and Abuse hotline at (866) 551-6328. 

Kansans have a way of looking out for one another, and that should include keeping in mind their elder friends and relatives in a growing and vulnerable part of the population.