By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The state has designated June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month and the county has supported it with a proclamation.
Jobs and Family Services Director Amy Metz-Simon presented some facts about the situation locally and statewide and asked the Board of County Commissioners to approve a proclamation. She also introduced some of her staff who work in helping seniors.
There was a statewide show of support June 15 with people wearing purple for “Elder Abuse Awareness Day.”
“Raising awareness is an important action we can take to begin long-term prevention of elder abuse,” stated Metz-Simon. “That is why we are encouraging Fulton County, and Northwest Ohio, to wear purple on June 15. Get your employees and co-workers together, have a contest, take a few minutes to hand out some of the facts…and send us your photo so we can post it on our Social Media pages.”
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individuals that cause harm to a vulnerable elder. It can include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, emotional or psychological abuse and neglect, abandonment and self-neglect.
It affects people of all backgrounds, cultures, socio-economic statuses and geographic locations. Financial exploitation is the most common type of elder abuse. Abuse can occur anywhere such as in a person’s own home, in a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospitals or other institutional settings.
Some common risk factors for abuse include dementia, mental health or substance abuse issues with the victim, perpetrator, or both, social isolation and/or poor physical health. Unfortunately, many cases of abuse go unreported.
Some victims may fail to report abuse due to feeling ashamed and embarrassed, especially if the family member is the abuser, they may be afraid that the abuser will get in trouble. They may also worry that they will be forced to live in a nursing home, feel guilty or that they are to blame, or they simply may be in denial that the abuse is occurring or unaware that what they are experiencing is abuse or neglect.
In some instances, victims are not able to speak out due to dementia or other impairments.
“With Ohio’s elder population (adults age 60 or older) accounting for 20 percent, elder abuse is more prevalent in our communities,” Metz-Simon said.
Statewide, from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, a total of 16,854 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation were received by the Ohio County Departments of Job and Family Services for adults 18 years of age and over. Of those reports, 16,422 were reports for adults age 60 and over. In Fulton County during the same time period, there were 84 reports in which 48 of those reports were “screened in,” for further investigation.
Metz-Simon notes that Fulton County JFS has a dedicated Adult Protective Services investigator, Tiffany Roloff as well as an additional experienced team of investigators in their Child Protective Services Unit.
To file a confidential report of elder abuse, contact the Fulton County Job and Family Services at 419-337-0010. Elder Abuse Awareness Day participation photos can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to post to social media, or tag Fulton County’s Facebook or Twitter page.
James Pruitt may be reached at