Local elder organizations call attention to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – Elder Law Guidance and the Council for Elder Maltreatment Prevention of Madison County is honoring World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by bringing attention to signs of elder abuse and neglect.

“Once you know the signs, you can and should do something about it,” said Scott E. Collins, Firm Owner and Managing Attorney at Elder Law Guidance. “Abuse comes in many forms, so we encourage you to watch for red flags and seek legal counsel for your loved ones if you suspect abuse.”

“I think most people primarily think of physical abuse, but many seniors are also susceptible to neglect, financial abuse, sexual abuse, as well as emotional/psychological abuse,” stated Elizabeth Clark, President for the Council for Elder Maltreatment Prevention in Madison County.

Clark also noted, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, for every known case reported to Adult Protective Services (APS), there are an additional 24 cases not reported.

Two ways to report elder abuse in Madison and surrounding counties are to contact Alice Salyers, Bluegrass District Ombudsman at 859-277-9215 or call Kentucky’s Elder Abuse & Neglect Hotline at 1-877-228-7384.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the following are red flags of elder abuse:

Emotional: Unusual changes in behavior or sleep, fear or anxiety, isolated or not responsive, depression

Physical, Sexual, Neglect: Broken bones, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, burns, untreated bed sores, torn, stained or bloody underclothing, unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, dirtiness, poor nutrition or dehydration, poor living conditions, lack of medical aids like glasses, walker, teeth, hearing aid, medications.

Financial: Unusual changes in bank account or money management, will, or financial documents; fraudulent signatures on financial documents, unpaid bills

“If your loved one is in long term care at home or in a facility and you can’t get regular face-to-face meetings, use technology whenever possible, including Zoom, Facetime, Messenger – any way you can to lay eyes on them,” said Collins. “That is one of the best ways you can help spot and stop elder abuse.”

“Family members and spouses account for over 65% of elder abuse occurrences and the likelihood of experiencing abuse and/or neglect increases as we age from about 21% at age 60 to 43% for those aged 80 or older according to the National Center on Elder Abuse,” Clark said. “Only 1 in 14 cases of abuse or neglect are reported to social service agencies or law enforcement and only 1 in 25 cases of financial exploitation gets reported.”

Elder abuse can affect any older members of society, regardless of social status or race, and can include physical, sexual, financial and emotional or psychological abuse, including verbal abuse and threats.

Typically, elder abuse can happen anywhere someone is disconnected from social support, from their own home, to nursing homes and even hospitals. Women and those over the age of 80 are more likely to experience abuse. The more isolated someone is from factors such as dementia or poor physical health, the more likely they are to experience abuse or neglect.

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2006 to bring communities around the world together in raising awareness about elder abuse.

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