Scioto JFS supports World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

·3 min read

Jun. 14—SCIOTO — World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was established by the World Health Organization at the United Nations on June 15, 2006. Each year since then, June 15 has been designated as the day to bring awareness and understanding of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of older persons. Wearing purple on June 15 symbolizes Elder Abuse Awareness.

Elder abuse can be defined as a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.

As many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year. Sadly, only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever come to authorities' attention.

Until recently, this serious social problem was hidden from public view and considered mostly a private matter. Even today, elder abuse continues to be considered taboo and ignored by societies across the world. However, the evidence is accumulating to indicate that elder abuse is an essential public health and societal problem.

In Scioto County, the Department of Job & Family Services leads the way in investigating reports of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of those age 60 and over. The Adult Protective Services unit fields countless calls and referrals from partnering agencies, law enforcement, family members, friends and neighbors, and even anonymous tips. Each and every referral submitted to Adult Protective Services is reviewed and a determination is made on what, if any, action can be taken.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Scioto County APS continued to provide services, including face-to-face home visits and investigations. The restrictions surrounding the pandemic created additional challenges for the elderly population, which was evidenced by the increased calls received by APS.

"We saw increased isolation, cognitive decline, depression, and overall health decline in our clients during the pandemic," said APS Caseworker Jennifer Bricker. "We took extra time with the clients, had longer conversations with them, suggested they find a hobby, take some walks, and to do anything they could to stay active and connected."

Surprisingly, there was only a slight increase in the number of referrals APS received in 2020, compared to statistics in 2019. However, the type of cases handled most in 2020 was Self-Neglect, followed by Neglect by Others, and then Exploitation. JFS informed the Scioto County Commissioners on Thursday that 333 referrals were received last year.

Rhonda Porter, APS Supervisor, said "There was a lot of speculation that financial exploitation cases would surge during the pandemic. But locally, we did not find that to be the case. Yes, there was an increase, but nothing like we were expecting to see — thank goodness."

Scioto County JFS Director, Tammy Moore Morton, expressed her appreciation for staff and community partners in helping get through the darkest days of the pandemic.

"The efforts of our APS staff and the generosity of our community partners was amazing! This community has heart! And not just a heart for the elderly, for all citizens!," she said. "There is a network of public servants in Scioto County who will do whatever it takes to help anybody in need. We are so blessed to be part of that!"

Some of those community partners include law enforcement, fire departments, Area Agency on Aging, hospital staff, doctors and social workers, the Prosecutor's office, legal services, homeless shelter, transportation, housing authorities, home health care services, and the list goes on and on.

In honor of Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2021, wear something purple and make an effort to check on someone you know who is elderly. For more information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, visit

https://eldermistreatment.usc.edu/weaad-home/

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