Raising elder abuse awareness

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization. Its purpose is to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders, and reaffirm our commitment to the principle of justice for all.

Elder abuse is widespread. Every year an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse. However, that estimate is likely too low: experts believe elder abuse is significantly under-reported. Census data suggests more than 200,000 Ohioans aged 60 and older experience some form of abuse; yet Ohio’s county departments of job and family services received just 34,000 calls in 2020. This suggests that tens of thousands of instances went unreported.

In addition to being a clear violation of the American commitment to justice for all, elder abuse is an issue with many consequences for our society. Its effects on communities range from public health to economic issues. The good news is we can prevent and address the issue of elder abuse. There are many ways to strengthen our social supports through policies, services, and programs that keep us integrated in our communities as we age.

We can design and equip community centers to allow older people to build relationships and participate in the work, play, and life of our neighborhoods.

We can think about the role of transportation in reducing social isolation and adjust systems so that we can all continue to move throughout our communities as we age.

We can develop programs to educate families and professionals who work with older adults to understand the importance of preventing isolation, how to spot the warning signs of abuse, and what to do to address abuse or neglect.

SourcePoint is proud to lead the charge against elder abuse in Delaware County. Our enrichment center provides a central location in the county for adults ages 55 and better to come together and participate in community programs. SourcePoint’s team members act as mandated reporters, following the Ohio Revised Code to report abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult. Our care consultants, who are licensed social workers, conduct routine visits with in-home care clients and are specially trained in spotting warning signs.

By working with each other in Delaware County, sharing our successes with other counties and states, and educating the public, we can strengthen the social support structure, reduce social isolation, protect communities and families against elder abuse, and help build a nation that lives up to our promise of justice for all.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services operates Adult Protective Services, which investigates reports of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and partners with appropriate agencies to address each situation. To report suspected elder abuse, call the APS hotline at 855-OHIO-APS (855-644-6277). There is no requirement of physical proof, and callers can choose to remain anonymous.

SourcePoint is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides professional expertise, services, and programs for Delaware County adults who want to thrive after 55, as well as family caregivers. Services and programs are supported by the local senior services levy, private and corporate donations, grants, and the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.

Submitted by SourcePoint.