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Ohio Elder Abuse On The Rise As Elderly Population Increases
As The Number Of Ohio’s Elderly Grows So Do The Amount Of Ohio Elder Abuse Cases Most Of Which Go Un-Reported
According to Stark County Probate Judge Dixie Park, Ohio elder abuse is on the rise as more Ohioans reach the age of 60 or older. Ohio has the sixth greatest number of elderly individuals of any state in the country, with over 180,000 Ohio residents turning 60 each year. Studies show, however, that Ohio is the lowest-ranked state in funding allocated to adult protective services. Currently, Ohio budgets only $500,000 per year to ensure the elderly are safe and protected.
According to Judge Park, as the baby boomers reach elderly status, Ohio elder abuse will only continue to increase. According to Park, over 1 million elders are abused in some way each year throughout the United States, and those are simply the reported cases. According to Park, up to 1 in 24 cases are unreported each year. She calls the increase in rate of Ohio elder abuse, “a silent problem that’s growing.” Elder abuse is often unreported because the victim won’t complain. A victim bay be ashamed, worry about the personal consequences, or even blame his or her self for the abuse. Other victims may not even be aware of the abuse due to health conditions like strokes or dementia.
Park further stated that Ohio elder abuse usually comes in six forms. Common abuse includes: physical, emotional, financial, neglect, self-neglect, or sexual harassment. The chief officer of social work from Coleman Professional Services, Susan Stroup, reports that self-neglect is the most commonly reported form of abuse. Other commonly reported forms of abuse are financial exploitation and caregiver neglect. According to Stroup, not all cases of abuse are intentional. In some cases, workers by be overexerted or suffering from fatigue, which can lead to neglect. Stroup states that elder abuse can be difficult to identify because the elderly have fewer interactions with the outside world. She told The Review, “People just don’t think of the elderly as being at risk for abuse.”
However, just like with other forms of abuse, there are clear signs of elder abuse. Signs can include: fearful behavior toward caregivers, unwillingness to let others inside the home (by the elderly person or caregiver), malnutrition or dehydration, poor hygiene, unexplained bruises and accidents, and unpaid bills. Abuse can also occur in a Nursing Home facility. Many cases of nursing home abuse go un-reported because the victim is afraid that their life will be disrupted if they report abuse, according to Sam McCoy of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. According to McCoy, families can help prevent abuse by visiting often and asking questions about any suspicious activity. “The greatest preventative (measure) is being there,” McCoy told The Review.
McCoy also said that for the most part, Ohio nursing homes are safe. “(Elder abuse) happens too often, but it’s not an everyday thing,” reassured McCoy. “By and large, the people in the long-term care industry care about their residents.” Individuals concerned about nursing home abuse and other forms of elder abuse can call the Ohio Department of Health’s health care facility hot line at 800-342-0553 or Job and Family Services at 330-451-8998.
[http://www.the-review.com/local%20news/2014/06/09/elder-abuse-silent-but-growing-problem-in-ohio, June 2014]