Elderly often abuse victims
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. A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also in 2009, found victims of elder abuse have a 300 percent higher risk of death than individuals not subject to abuse.
Abuse can take many forms including physical, verbal, neglect and financial exploitation.
June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7), which covers 10 counties in Ohio, including Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton, encourages the community to be aware and educated about elder abuse. If you or someone you know is the victim of abuse, it is important to report it to the appropriate authorities.
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 who 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.
Be 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 your local Adult Protective Services agency 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 911 immediately.
Pamela K. Matura is the executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7.