Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, called on Congress to help protect the elderly from abuse.

He told the House Select Committee on Aging last week that 12 times as many cases of elder abuse are committed than are ever reported, and he wants better outreach programs to help victims."Salt Lake County officials estimate that there will be 340 cases of elder abuse reported by the end of 1991. However, they expect that as many as 4,760 instances of elder abuse will actually occur in the country this year," he said.

Owens, in his statement to the committee, called the problem "one of our country's closest-kept secrets . . . Approximately one out of every 20 older Americans is a victim of elder abuse."

Owens recently introduced a bill to help states develop public-awareness programs.