Know the signs of elder abuse

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Mayor Reynold Peterson signed a proclamation declaring June 15 Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Spencer with Nancy Ketcham, Elder Rights Specialist with Elderbridge Agency on Aging, to witness. Elderbridge will conduct a series of events on June 15 to educate the public about the signs of elder abuse and how to report it. (Photo submitted)

One to 2 million adults age 65 and older have been injured, exploited or otherwise mistreated by a caregiver in the U.S. according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. However, many cases of elder abuse go unreported.

"A majority of cases go unreported because they deal with family members who are also caregivers," Nancy Ketcham, Elder Rights Specialist with Elderbridge, said. "Ninety percent of abusers are caregivers who are family members. Victims are also afraid of retaliation from their caregivers if they report it."

On June 15, also known as Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Elderbridge Agency on Aging in Spencer will conduct a series of events to shed light on the issue of caregivers carrying out intentional negligent acts against their elderly charges. The events are meant to inform the public about the signs of elder abuse and how to report it.

"We like to encourage people to keep an eye on their elderly neighbors," Ketcham explained. "Keep in touch with them. Check for signs of activity or inactivity. Those who are at risk are those who are in isolated situations such as living on a farm or in a secluded neighborhood with few neighbors. This abuse can also happen in hospitals and nursing homes."

Elder abuse typically involves vulnerable adults with either a disability, Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Types of elder abuse include physical, emotional and/or verbal abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and financial exploitation.

"I handle all of the elder abuse cases in our nine county area," Ketcham said. "Right now there are 16 reported cases of elder abuse and a majority of the them are in Clay and Dickinson counties. We want to let people know that elder abuse does happen here and if they see it happening they can report it."

Ways to report elder abuse include contacting the Lifelong Links hotline at 1-866-468-7887.

"Those reports will be directed to me, and I monitor the situation to see if there is abuse going on," Ketcham explained. "We then develop interventions to prevent the abuse and move the victim into a safe environment."

Elder Abuse Awareness Day will begin at 8 a.m. with free coffee for seniors at Hy-Vee where Elderbridge staff will disseminate information about the Elder Rights Program. At 11:30 a.m., Ketcham will conduct a presentation at the Spencer Area Activity Center about World Elder Abuse Day and Iowa seniors' rights. From 2-4 p.m., a shred event will be conducted at Northwest Bank in partnership with InfoDog Security to prevent identity theft and financial exploitation. The Spencer Police Department will also conduct a drug take back from 2-4 p.m. at the police station to prevent prescription drug theft, which is another form of elder abuse.

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