Let’s put a stop to elder abuse

Children and the elderly are the two most vulnerable segments of society.

The elderly face a sometimes difficult life.

They may have to depend upon the care of others. They also may not be able to care for themselves.

There is a small group of county workers charged with protecting the elderly.

The adult protective services unit at the Jefferson County Job and Family Services Department received 242 referrals from October 2017 through September. Of those, 160 referrals were substantiated and investigated.

Many of the cases involved self-neglect, where an elderly person is not able to care for themselves.

The number of cases is growing, mainly because of the increasing segment of the population age 60 and older.

Sadly, there were dozens of cases of financial exploitation in the past year, in which a relative or friend takes money from a senior citizen.

It may be taking money out of their wallet or walking them into a bank to make a substantial withdrawal.

Banks generally have been good about recognizing the financial exploitation of senior citizens. The bank employees know the customer and suspect when something isn’t right.

It is good to have someone watching over the shoulder of our elderly residents.

The number of persons and professions who are mandated to report suspicions of elder abuse was increased by state law at the end of September.

Police officers, social workers, doctors and hospitals already were on the list.

Now the mandated reporters list includes: pharmacists, dialysis technician; health department employees; firefighters; paramedics and emergency medical technicians; local building inspectors; certified public accountants; real estate broker or agent; notary publics; bank or savings and loan employees; and investment and financial planners.

These professions have regular contact with senior citizens. Sometimes it is in an emergency situation.

Those required to report elder abuse don’t have to have actual proof, only a suspicion. It might be a case where the elderly person is living in isolation, not having a way to get out of the house to grocery shop or see a doctor.

Job and family services can step in to help by referring them to other agencies to get the help they need, such as delivered meals or transportation to a doctor’s office.

Most people wouldn’t ignore child abuse. The same should be said for elder abuse.

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