June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month in DK County

Jun. 10—Thursday morning, the Dickinson County Commission declared June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

Commissioner Lynn Peterson said, reading from the proclamation, that a total of one in 10 elders experience some kind of mistreatment. This includes domestic and/or sexual violence, financial abuse and neglect.

"Abusers of older adults are both women and men and are usually family members, caregivers, healthcare workers or other trusted individuals," Peterson said. "Due to the shame, fear and other barriers elders face in reporting abuse, only a limited number of victims are able to get the help they need."

Elderly people around the nation lose roughly $2.6 billion to financial abuse when people illegally hide, misuse or outright steal money or property from them, taking advantage of elders for their own or someone else's financial gain.

Elder abuse can shorten senior citizens' lives and can increase their risk of death by about 300 percent in comparison with elders who have not been subjected to such abuse, Peterson said.

"Too often, elder abuse threatens the livelihood of older individuals," he said.

The senior citizen population of Dickinson County is no less vulnerable to elder abuse and neglect than senior citizens anywhere else — it can happen to anyone.

"Dickinson County's vulnerable and elder adults of all social economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds may be targets of abuse, neglect, or exploitation which can occur in families, longterm care facilities and medical settings," Peterson said. "We all have a responsibility to support the safety, welfare and dignity of the older adults and must work toward ending elder abuse by assisting victims and assessing the information and supportive services they need, creating better and more resources for older adults in need, instituting effective intervention and prevention policy and engaging in discussion with family members and peers to promote awareness of the quiet epidemic of elder abuse."

Peterson encouraged everyone in Dickinson County to work together to prevent the mistreatment of older adults in the community.

The commission voted unanimously in favor of proclaiming June Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Dickinson County.