By Hanns Pieper (Contact)Sunday, May 3, 2009
Estimating just how much elder abuse goes on in any community is not easy, but a reasonably reliable estimate is that about 4 percent of seniors suffer from some form of elder abuse.
In the Tri-State, that would mean that approximately 800 seniors are abused at any one point in time, and that is 800 seniors too many.
Physical abuse usually comes to mind first.
Inflicting physical damage on a senior is certainly abusive, but another form of physical abuse is withholding important things, such as medication, that are necessary for the senior's physical welfare.
Psychological abuse is often more subtle and harder to spot. In a youth-obsessed culture where it is already difficult enough to maintain a strong sense of self-worth as a senior, insults and verbal attacks can be devastating. Socially isolating or controlling the senior is another example of psychological abuse.
Perhaps the most common kind of elder abuse is financial abuse.
Seniors frequently hand over control of their finances to their children or a trusted friend.
Unfortunately, sometimes these folks forget whose money it is and they start thinking of it as their own.
If you are at a loss as to how to report abuse, contact your Regional Council on Aging.
These councils are found in virtually all areas of the country. In Southern Indiana, the Elder Abuse Hotline is (800) 992-6978. Abuse can also be reported to Adult Protective Services at the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office at (812) 435-5190.
Hanns Pieper is professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of Evansville. If you have questions about aging, send them by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to him in care of Family, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702.
Unfortunately the people that we depend on when tragedy strikes in the form of Elder abuse are not able to help.
From personal experience when my mother was kidnapped by a sibling that did not consider her will to be "fair" and he then drugged and made her sign her estate over to him , when the crime was reported the authorities they passed the buck, the Sheriff, said the State Attorney was responsible,the State Attorney said the APS was responsible, the APS said they had no "police powers" and were not able to help, they recommended we obtain a guardianship, by the time we got this several years and hundreds of thousands in legal feels later, my mother was already incapacitated from neglect.
Others who turned to APS for help their elders were committed to a nursing homes and they were prohibited from seeing them while a court appointed guardian,and his friends ransacked the estate by charging outrageous and unwarranted legal fees while everyone turned a blind eye.
This my friends is the reality of elder abuse and elder financial abuse, and to tell the chickens to turn to the fox for help is the worst you can do......I have documented many cases in ElderAbuseHelp.Org where the people who we turn for help are the biggest grave robbers and opportunists who take incapacitated and helpless venerable adults and take them to the cleaners.
Hope you are able to post this as a warning to others that the mechanism to protect our elders is broken and is in serious need of oversight if not a major overhaul.