CINCINNATI -- The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) and many other state agencies are encouraging Ohioans to wear purple Wednesday to recognized Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Almost 90 percent of elder abuse occurs at the hands of family members, according to the National Council on Aging. They also say some 5 million older Americans fall victim to abuse every year,
“The most disturbing statistic about elder abuse is that approximately 1 in 10 older adults have experienced some type of abuse, yet as few as one in five cases of abuse are reported to authorities,” said ODA Director Bonnie K. Burman. “Aging is everybody’s business, which is why it is critically important that none of us turn a blind eye to abuse and neglect of an elder. Know the signs. Step up. Speak up.”
Health experts say most nursing homes are quite safe and that the abuse most frequently happens in the senior's own home. Motivation for the abuse, especially financial, is sometimes the result of another big problem plaguing the Tri-State: heroin.
“Oftentimes, financial abuse for example can be driven by family members who have heroin or other drug habits who are seeking money from individuals so they are taking moneys away," said Jack Rudnick Jr., the chief operating officer of Tri-State Gastroenterology Associates.
- Signs of physical harm
- Sudden behavioral changes
- A caregiver who refuses to allow visitors to see the adult alone
- Hazardous or unsanitary living conditions
- Dehydration, malnutrition or poor personal hygiene
- Previously uninvolved relatives showing sudden interest in the adult’s affairs and possessions
- Unexplained, sudden transfers of assets or finances to an individual
- Unexplained disappearances of funds or valuable possessions
- Abrupt changes in a will, financial documents, bank accounts or banking practice
If you suspect an older adult is being abused, neglected or exploited, contact local law enforcement or your county department of job and family services immediately. For a directory of county agencies, go to the website here.