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Elder Abuse – A Cause for Concern!
According to the Aging Futures Findings Report, Broome County's demographics are such that the age 85 and older population is the fastest growing population in Broome County. As the population of our community changes we need to be aware of how to identify if someone we know is the victim of abuse and we need to know what we can do to try and get victims help.
"Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevelence Study"'released May 2011 found the following about elder abuse and victimization happening in New York State:
-Elder Abuse incidence rate- In New York State for every older adult that is referred to authorities that have the capacity and responsibility to assist older adult victims, there is likely 24 more that are not referred.
-Financial exploitation was the most common form of mistreatment reported by older persons (60yr.old +) to have taken place in the year preceding the survey.
-It is estimated that 260,000 older adults in NYS had been victims of at least one form of elder abuse in the preceding year. (2008-09)
There are several types of victimization of the elderly that can occur:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Financial Exploitation
- Emotional/ Psychological/ Verbal Abuse
- Neglect by a Caregiver
- Self Neglect
For a more in depth definition of the above categories of adult abuse go to www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/psa
The Elderly Who Are at Greatest Risk of Being Abused or Neglected:
- Those who lack social supports in the community
- Those who have physical or mental impairments
- Those who are over the age of 80
The elderly are sometimes reluctant to report when they are being or have been victimized. Here are some the reasons that they may not want to tell:
- Fear of retaliation
- Fear of unknown consequences (e.g. like having to go into a nursing home)
- Shame and embarrassment
- Fear of being alone
- Loyalty to caregiver
Indicators of Elder Abuse and Neglect:
The following are things that you can look for which may indicate that an individual may be the victim of elder abuse. Each indicator by itself may not signal an abuse situation. There may be other factors that need to be considered before reaching a conclusion of abuse but you can report suspicions.
- Injuries that have not been properly treated
- Injuries that are not consist with the explanation
- Cuts, lacerations or puncture wounds
- Bruises, welts, which may be in various stages of healing
- Dehydration, malnourishment or weight loss without medical explanation
- Poor skin hygiene, sunken eyes or cheeks
- Evidence of inadequate care, such as improperly treated bedsores
- Eye problems, retinal detachment
- Pulled out hair
- Burns such as by cigarettes, chemicals or from friction
- Locked in room; tied to furniture or toilet
- Broken bones
- Lack of medical attention or equipment
- Missing essentials such as eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, prosthetic devices
- Repeated use of emergency room or use of multiple medical practitioners
- Inadequate care
- Changes in the victim's behavior
- Suspicious banking (unusual transfers or withdrawals)
- Sudden increase in debts
- Confusion or anxiety when discussing finances
- Appearance of a new overbearing, evasive or uncooperative companion
- Credit card bill from suppliers not likely to be frequented by an elder
The following may be behaviors exhibited by the victim:
- Implausible stories about injuries or events
- Confusion or disorientation
- Agitation, anxiety
- Hesitation to talk openly
- Isolation except from victim's caregiver or possible abuser
Behaviors of note which may indicate a person who may be perpetrating abuse or neglect:
- Elder or dependent adult not given the opportunity to speak for him or herself or to see others without the presence of the caregiver (suspected abuser)
- Indifference, intimidation or expressed anger toward the dependent person
- Family member or caregiver 'blames' the elder or dependent adult (e.g., accusation that the incontinence is a deliberate act)
- Problems with drugs or alcohol, history of mental illness or history of incarceration
- Previous history of family violence or violent behavior
- Failure to comply with care plan for the elder
- Conflicting accounts of incidents
- Social isolation of the victim
- Financial dependency of caregiver on the victim
If you believe that you know someone who is being victimized please notify the proper agency of your concern.
The following are places that you can call to seek help for the individual.
If the person resides in their home in Broome County, you should call Broome County Protective Services for Adults (at the Department of Social Services) at 607.778.2635; Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. If it is an emergency that can't wait for normal business hours call your local police department.
If the person you are concerned about does not reside in Broome County, you can call your local Department of Social Services in the county were they live and ask for Protective Services for Adults, or in other counties in New York State you can call 1-844-697-3505 (M-F 8:00am -5:00pm)
If you suspect that a Home Health Care Worker is abusing or neglecting the elderly person:
The information should be called in to the Home Care/Hospice Hotline (New York State Department of Health) at 1-800-628-5972.
If the person you are concerned about resides in an Adult Care Home or Assisted Living Facility and you have suspicions of abuse or neglect:
You should call the New York State Adult Home Hotline (New York State Department of Health) – 1-866-893-6772
If the person you are concerned about is in a Nursing Home:
You should call the New York State Department of Health at 1-888-201-4563.
Other resources for information:
If you are interested in a presentation on Elder Abuse Prevention
for your group or organization please call the Coordinator at 607.778.2626.
or visit www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/psa
or call Broome County Office for Aging - 607-778-2411