Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Connecticut takes lead in Elder Abuse With Three Times the National Median

By Pat McCormack pmccormack@bcnnew.com

Slap marks and/or cigarette burns are among the physical signs of "elder abuse."
Pressure ulcers, filth, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration are other warning signs exhibited by elder abuse victims.

The sad litany of warning signs also includes aspects of emotional, sexual and financial exploitation among the fragile elderly unable to escape from the stranglehold perpetrators have on them. In those respects, victims of elder abuse appear to have much in common with victims of domestic violence.

The warning signs and what can be done to help the victims and/or prevent elder abuse was the focus Monday during a conference on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The event, attended by community leaders joined in the common cause of eliminating/preventing elder abuse, was sponsored by the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention, an entity based at the Jewish Home for the Elderly, 175 Jefferson St., Fairfield, and headed by Laura Snow.

Participants included Fairfield First Selectman Ken Flatto, who read a proclamation declaring Monday, June 15, as the fourth annual World Elder Abuse Day
In the proclamation, decorated with blue ribbons and the golden seal of the Town of Fairfield, Flatto saluted the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention for its "mission to help seniors attain the highest quality of life, to assist victims, and to reduce the prevalence of elder abuse."
He also heaped plaudits on the Coalition for the Advocacy, Prevention, and Elimination of Older Adult Abuse (CAPE), noting that the organization "aims to prevent abuse and help victims of elder abuse through advocacy, awareness and professional support."
Flatto's proclamation also called upon "all residents to ... appreciate the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention and CAPE."

"We would rather not be here, but elder abuse is a fact of life that calls us together," Andrew H. Banoff, president & CEO of the Jewish Home for the Elderly said, opening the meeting.
Marie Allen, meanwhile, talked about the importance of safety for seniors. She is executive director of the Southwestern Area Agency on Aging (SWCAA) that covers Fairfield County towns from Bridgeport and Greenwich.

She and others, including Jim Dwyer, Bridgeport supervisor of Protective Services for the Elderly, provided statistics on elder abuse. They prefaced the report by making the following points:

" Elder abuse is a national problem that will continue to rise with increases in the number of older adults, due to the Baby Boomer generation swelling the population 60 and older.

" Estimates of the incidence of elder abuse range from 2 to 10 percent, depending on the survey method.

" Data on elder abuse in domestic settings suggest that 1 in 14 incidents, excluding self-neglect, come to the attention of authorities.

" Connecticut has the highest rate of reported elder abuse cases, which is almost three times the national median.

" In 2006, the latest year in which reliable statistics are available, approximately 640 cases of elder abuse were opened in Fairfield County alone. Approximately 330 of these cases were in the Greater Bridgeport area.

" In Connecticut, physical injury and financial abuse of the elderly and disabled are criminal offenses. Also unique to Connecticut is a mandated reporting rule for some professionals who suspect a case of elder abuse. Anyone, however, may report. Those who are not mandated to report but report in good faith, are free of liability.

For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions about elder abuse, call Snow at The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention contact Snow at 396-1097 or lsnow@jhe.org.

No comments: