Note: This story appears in the Tuesday, June 11 newspaper on Page A1.
The annual day for promoting Elder Abuse Awareness is this Saturday, June 15, and those looking to recognize the day should wear purple in recognition.
The day is meant to bring to the forefront the various issues and ways senior citizens can be targets of crimes like stealing, as well as physical and mental abuse. According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Adult Protective Services unit, there are thousands of reports of elder abuse made each year in Ohio, falling under five types: neglect, exploitation, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.
Neglect can manifest as failure to provide goods or services necessary for their safety and wellbeing. That could mean a family member forgetting or intentionally not bringing groceries over, or not helping with or improperly providing medical care.
Exploitation also usually comes from caretakers, who use the elder for their own gain. That could be monetary or a personal benefit or profit that the caretakers are garnering from their charge, such as taking prescription medication or funds. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse are more straightforward: physical is hitting, force feeding, restraining or other physically damaging acts; emotional can be seen through threats or humiliation of a charge; and sexual relates to rape or other nonconsensual sexual contact.
A way that people can fight elder abuse is by becoming a court-appointed guardian. Guardians are caretakers of either a person, their estate, or both. Legally, the range of duties is similar to that of the power of attorney. However, guardians are overseen by the Athens County Probate Court, and can be a necessary aspect of life for elders with ailments.
Abuse can be reported to the JFS Adult Protective Services unit, specifically Tabatha McDade, adult protective services coordinator, at 740-627-4208. A toll-free emergency line is also available for after hours reporting at 810-299-9903.