Building awareness to prevent elder abuse

As deemed by Governor Kasich, June 15 was “Elder Abuse Awareness Day,” throughout Ohio. All Ohioans, and Fulton County residents, are encouraged to recognize that the elder citizens of the communities deserve to live with dignity and respect in safe and caring communities. Residents are encouraged to wear purple to work on this day to show their support, build awareness and to take a stance against elder abuse.

Elder abuse affects people of all backgrounds, cultures and geographic locations. Unfortunately, only about one in five incidents of elder abuse is believed to be reported. In 2014, Ohio received a total of 13,608 reports of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. In Fulton County, there were 62 reports.

T.J. Jones, Social Services Supervisor for Fulton County Job and Family Services notes that the number of reports for older adults has increased 25 percent over the past five years. “As our population continues to age, we are seeing the number of reports continue to increase year after year,” notes Jones. He mentioned that most common reports received are self-neglect, exploitation, physical abuse and neglect.

Elderly population nears 30 percent by 2030

With Ohio’s elder population (adults age 60 or older) accounting for 20 percent of the state’s residences today and projected to increase to 29 percent by 2030, elder abuse is becoming more prevalent. Fulton County is proactively addressing this concern as their Adult Protective Services unit has been awarded an innovation grant totaling near $96,000 and a capacity grant for roughly $25,000.

“These opportunities are going to allow us to become more involved in the community by providing resources and awareness information to the public. It will also assist us in improving our efficiency through technology,” Jones shared.

A part of their strategy includes allocating funding towards community programs geared toward older adults such as the Annual Road to Wellness event that is hosted by the Aging Consortium of Fulton County, as well as becoming more active in awareness events at the fair. They also will purchase a full sized truck to use when home condition issues warrant a clean-up, or when moving a resident from an unsafe location to a safe location.

They will be able to house cleaning supplies in an internal pantry to be used for residents who many not have the means to purchase them on their own. Other areas that the grants will support are technology upgrades such as utilizing tablets for note taking, applications for documenting images and dictation devices, all that will assist in more efficiency for the Adult Protective Services Department.

To file a confidential report of elder abuse, contact the Fulton County Job and Family Services at 419-337-0010.