Be aware of signs of elderly abuse

We applaud efforts to raise awareness about abuse of the elderly and encourage everyone to learn the signs and know what to do about it.

Local aging officials say cases of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation are on the rise. They want everyone to wear purple on June 13 to draw attention to the issue. More importantly, they want people to watch for signs that the elderly in their lives could be victims.

Some signs to watch for include:

– Unexplained or inadequately explained bruises, scars, welts or cuts.

– An elder’s signature on property transfers they don’t remember or can’t explain.

– Excessive gifts

– A cluttered, or dirty, home.

– A lack of food or affordable amentities in the elder’s home.

– Withdrawal behavior

Officials stress that any concern should be reported. People can do so by contacting the Washington County Department of Job and Family Services Adult Protection Service. The name of the person reporting abuse is confidential.

Locally, about a dozen such complaints are being investigated at any one time. Unfortunately, the state affords too few funds to help investigate and alleviate the problem, providing the local department just $3,000 a year to help pay for its work.

Still, it’s important friends, neighbors and loved ones speak up if they suspect abuse. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 16,000 allegations of elder abuse in 2013 and estimates that for every one case of abuse reported in the U.S., another 23 cases go unreported.

To report abuse call: 373-5513.