Regarding the Sept. 20 Style article “Elder abuse activist lands ‘genius’ grant”:
Elder abuse is a serious problem, and Marie-Therese Connolly’s MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for work to remedy abuse is certainly well- deserved.
It is important, however, to put elder abuse in context. Studies show that 60 million Americans provide care to adult relatives, with an average lifetime economic cost per person of $300,000, mostly from early retirement or reduced work hours. If the public paid for this, costs would be four times what the federal government now pays for long-term care.
The great majority of these caregivers do exemplary jobs, sacrificing free time, sleep and sometimes their own health. University research conducted by my colleagues and me as social scientistsalso shows that older people in residential-care settings describe both exemplary paid care providers and some who are mediocre or poor.
This positive quality of care, however, is not newsworthy, and most news stories focus on the few, horrific cases where abuse or neglect leads to harm or death. In elder care, there are most certainly a few villains but many, many unsung heroes.
Leslie A. Morgan, Baltimore