Local Effort to Build Community Consciousness About Elder Neglect and Abuse
June 14, 2021, Richmond – Elder Law Guidance: The Elder Law Practice of Scott E. Collins, PLLC, and the Council for Elder Maltreatment Prevention of Madison County is commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by raising awareness about the signs of elder abuse and neglect.
“Once you know the signs, you can and should do something about it,” said 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.”
Elizabeth Clark, President of the Council for Elder Maltreatment Prevention in Madison County, agrees.
“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,” said Clark. She notes that, 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.
To report elder abuse in Madison and surrounding counties, contact Alice Salyers, Bluegrass District Ombudsman, (859) 277-9215 or call Kentucky’s Elder Abuse & Neglect Hotline at 1-877-228-7384.
The following are red flags of elder abuse, according to the National Center on 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 affects older people across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races, and includes physical, sexual, financial, and emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats). Every year an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. More than $36 billion is estimated to be lost annually through exploitation while approximately 7,700 cases of abuse are investigated in Kentucky each year.
It can occur anywhere they are disconnected from social supports, like in their own home, in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutional settings, like hospitals. Women and people over 80 are more likely to experience abuse. Factors such as dementia or poor physical health can increase their isolation, putting them at greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect.
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006, to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse.
Elder Law Guidance focuses exclusively on elder law and is committed to protecting families in Central and Southeastern Kentucky from the loss of everything they own to the extreme cost of long-term healthcare. If you suspect your loved one has experienced neglect, call our office at 859.544.6012 for resources or a free consultation. Visit www.elderlawguidance.com for more information.