A Department of Justice study estimated in 2009 that about one in nine adults age 60 and older suffers abuse each year. For every one case reported to authorities, it is believed that five more go unreported.
Locally, the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, along with the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) Wheelersburg Office, sponsored an Essay Contest for Scioto County junior high students in recognition of Ohio’s Elder Abuse Awareness Day and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day that is observed on June 15, 2014. Scioto County junior high students were asked to submit essays with the theme of “How has an older adult impacted your life in a positive way and how have you shown respect and appreciation to this older adult?” Winners were announced and invited to the June Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force meeting that was held on June 10, 2014. The contest served to educate Scioto County students about the importance of respecting and honoring their elders.
Throughout the month of June, the Task Force speakers bureau is presenting to various senior groups throughout the county about ways to protect themselves from financial exploitation and elder abuse. In addition, the Task Force is sponsoring a letter campaign to state legislators about an increase in funding for elder protection programs.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. The specificity of laws varies from state to state, but broadly defined, abuse may be:
Physical Abuse - Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.
Emotional Abuse - Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.
Sexual Abuse - Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
Exploitation - Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.
Neglect - Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder.
Abandonment - The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
The National Center on Elder Abuse also adds that those at risk could vary as, like other types of domestic violence, elder abuse is extremely complex. Generally, a combination of psychological, social, and economic factors, along with the mental and physical conditions of the victim and the perpetrator, contribute to the occurrence of elder maltreatment. Risk factors may include a history of domestic violence, personal problems of abusers, isolation, caregiver stress, and personal characteristics of the elder.
What’s important is being aware of the risk factors and warning signs associated with elder abuse. Warning signs could include physical marks or physical mistreatment, behavioral changes, and sudden changes in financial situations. If you or someone you know has been the victim of abuse, exploitation or neglect, it is important to report the suspected abuse immediately. Call your doctor or confide in a family member or friend you trust, or call the Scioto County Adult Protective Service worker within the Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services at 740-354-6661 to report elder abuse occurring in the community. To report abuse in long-term care facilities, call the AAA7 Ombudsman Program at 1-800-582-7277. If someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call your local police department or sheriff’s office, or 9-1-1 immediately.
The Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force is comprised of a number of community agencies and organizations including: the Area Agency on Aging District 7, Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services, Southern Ohio Medical Center, Hempstead Manor, Hill View Retirement Center, Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office, United Scioto Senior Activities, Portsmouth Police Department, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, Scioto County Probate Court, Best Care, Advantage Home Health, ADAMHS Board, Counseling Center, Comfort Care Partners, King’s Daughters Medical Center Ohio, Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority, Community Choice Home Care, and the Scioto County Department of Disabilities. The Task Force is dedicated to keeping Scioto County elders safe and healthy by increasing awareness of elder abuse, working to identify service gaps, and developing programs and services to meet the needs of the elderly population. It’s goal is for elders to be able to age in place in a safe and healthy environment.
For more information about the Task Force, please call Kaye Inoshita, Director of the AAA7 Ombudsman Program and Chairperson for the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, at 1-800-582-7277.