Their View: World Elder Abuse Day is Saturday

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By Crystal Steiger

Contributing columnist

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is Saturday. It was first launched on June 15, 2006, and was created to help communities around the world promote a better understanding of elder abuse and neglect. Wearing purple on June 15 is encouraged to show your support for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

About 1 in 10 Americans aged 60 years and older have experienced some type of elder abuse. It is estimated that 5 million elders are abused each year and only 1 in 24 are reported. About 60 percent of perpetrators in elder abuse/neglect cases are family members and two thirds of perpetrators are an adult child or spouse.

Ohio considers elders to be anyone 60 years old or older. Different types of elder abuse include neglect, self-neglect, physical abuse, emotional/verbal abuse, exploitation, and sexual abuse.

Neglect or self-neglect is the failure to meet basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care) on the part of the elder or the caregiver of the elder. Physical abuse can include hitting, shoving, or causing injury to an elder. Emotional/verbal abuse occurs when an older person is yelled at, threatened, or belittled. Exploitation is the misuse of an adult’s funds or property.

Sexual abuse is defined as coercing an older person through force, trickery, threats, or other means into unwanted sexual activity. Functional dependence or disability, poor physical health, cognitive impairment, poor mental health, and low income are things that make an elder more vulnerable to be abused or neglected by others.

Elder abuse can be prevented by educating seniors, professionals, caregivers, and the public on abuse and neglect and how to report any concerns of abuse or neglect. If you’re an elder, you can stay safe by taking care of your health and being cautious about who you allow to have access to your money, property, and assets.

Elders who suffer from mental health or substance abuse should seek professional help to learn coping skills for dealing with these types of issues. Elders can also protect themselves and their assets by creating a Power of Attorney or Living Will in case they become incapacitated.

A Power of Attorney or Living Will can help prevent confusion and family issues in the future. These legal documents can be reviewed and modified periodically as life changes. Elders can also prevent others from abusing or neglecting them by managing their own mail, not giving personal information over the phone, having checks direct deposited with no persons having access to bank accounts, and having their own phone.

Staying connected with friends and family and being active in the community will also help decrease social isolation and increase quality of life for elders.

If you believe a friend or family member may be experiencing elder abuse, please contact Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services at 937-498-4981.

The writer is the adult protective services caseworker for the Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services.

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