According to the Administration on Aging, every year, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And while that number is quite staggering, experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as five cases go unreported.
Locally, the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, along with the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) Wheelersburg Office, and a number of other local organizations, is planning a special event in recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Thursday, June 13 from 10:00 am until 12 Noon in Portsmouth’s Tracy Park. The event is in recognition of Ohio’s Elder Abuse Awareness Day and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day that will be observed on June 15th.
The event will serve to educate the public about elder abuse and to recognize Scioto County’s victims of elder abuse. As purple has been designated as the color for elder abuse awareness, the Portsmouth Garden Club, in collaboration with the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, will plant 162 purple petunias in the park to represent the 162 reported cases of elder abuse in Scioto County in 2012. In addition, 162 balloons will also be launched during the event.
To further engage the community, the task force is asking Scioto County property owners and businesses to participate by planting purple flower gardens and tying purple ribbons around trees during the month of June.
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, 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. Its goal is for elders to be able to age in place in a safe and healthy environment.
For more information about the Task Force or the special event on June 13th, please call Kaye Mason-Inoshita, Director of the AAA7 Ombudsman Program and Chairperson for the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, at 1-800-582-7277.