Guest column/June, Elder Abuse Awareness Month, a chance to learn

At a young age, many of us are taught to respect our elders, for they have spent their lives caring for us and contributing to the society in which we live today. As valued members of our community, our elders deserve the utmost care and appreciation.

The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable populations in our community, and they, unfortunately, experience abuse on a regular basis. In 2012, our agency received 113 adult protective service reports. There are different types of abuse that affect the elderly in our community: physical abuse – the use of force to threaten or physically injure a vulnerable elder; emotional abuse – verbal attacks, threats, rejection, isolation or belittling acts that cause or could cause mental anguish, pain or distress to a senior; sexual abuse – sexual contact that is forced, tricked, threatened or otherwise coerced upon a vulnerable elder; exploitation – theft, fraud, misuse or neglect of authority and use of undue influence as a lever to gain control over an older person’s money or property; and neglect – a caregiver’s failure or refusal to provide for a vulnerable elder’s safety, physical or emotional needs.

To fight elder abuse, call or visit an elderly loved one and ask how he or she is doing. Provide a respite break for a caregiver. Volunteer to be a friendly visitor to a nursing home resident or homebound senior in your neighborhood.

Remember, elder abuse is a crime. Elders, who have contributed so much to our society, deserve to live in a dignified and respected environment in their later years.

If you suspect elder abuse, be a good citizen and good neighbor and contact the Jefferson County Job and Family Services Adult Protection Unit at (740) 282-0961.

Elderly people deserve our utmost attention and respect.

(Ferron is the director of Jefferson County Job and Family Services.)