Elder Abuse Awareness Month highlights need for community support, intervention

Brochures sitting in the Carteret County Department of Social Services office in Beaufort highlight the issue of elder abuse.   May 9-June 20 is being observed as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month to coincide with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — There have been 345 reports of elder abuse filed with the Carteret County Department of Social Services since the beginning of 2020.

That’s why DSS adult protective services supervisor James Chiavola said it’s important to be aware of the problem as May 9-June 20 is observed as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month. The dates were picked because of Mother’s Day falling on May 9 and Father’s Day observed Sunday, June 20.

In addition, Tuesday, June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

“Elder abuse is rampant, yet is a severely under-reported social ill, affecting an estimated one in six persons aged 60 and older around the globe,” Mr. Chiavola said during the May 10 County Consolidated Human Services Board meeting. “With our aging population, elder abuse is a growing problem.”

Elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person. The abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, neglect or financial.

While there have always been incidents of elder mistreatment, Mr. Chiavola said he’s worried there were more unreported occurrences due to lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Measures intended to curb the spread of the virus had the potential of adversely affecting the physical and mental health of older persons,” he said. “Policies adopted by care homes to safeguard their residents from infection precluded them from receiving visitors, which often contributed to loneliness, depression and anxiety. Even where older persons were isolating at home with their families, they may have faced increased abuse and neglect fueled by tension, stress and uncertainty resulting from job or income loss.”

Mr. Chiavola said the month is a good time to bring awareness to the growing problem and be willing to step in if a suspected incident is occurring.

“We all have a shared responsibility to ensure that older persons feel safe, included and significant in our communities and to protect them from harm,” he said. “I would like to encourage all individuals to recommit to ending all forms of prejudice, neglect and discrimination experienced by our senior citizens.”

DSS suggests these five things to help prevent elder abuse:

  • Listen to older people and caregivers to understand their challenges and provide support.
  • Educate one another about the signs of abuse and how to get help.
  • Report suspected abuse or neglect as soon as possible.
  • Build a community that fosters social connections and supports older individuals and caregivers.
  • Reach out to professional services for support where available.

It’s important to know the signs of elder abuse. Physical signs of possible abuse include:

  • Broken bones, bruises and welts.
  • Cuts, sores or burns.
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases without clear explanation.
  • Unsanitary living conditions and poor hygiene.
  • Unusual weight loss or dehydration.
  • Unattended medical needs.

Emotional/behavioral signs of elder abuse can include:

  • Unusual changes in behavior or sleep.
  • Fear or anxiety.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Withdrawal from normal activities.
  • Sadness.

Financial signs of abuse can include:

  • Unusual changes in a bank account or money management services.
  • Unusual or sudden changes in a will or other financial documents.
  • Fraudulent signatures on financial documents.
  • Unpaid bills.

Those suspecting elder abuse, neglect or exploitation should contact DSS at 252-728-3181 or the County Sheriff’s Office at 252-728-8400.

Those suspecting abuse or neglect in long-term care facilities should contact the Eastern Carolina Council at 800-824-4648.

 

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

(11) comments

noitall

"Intervention" sounds like a slippery slope to yet another government program. There may be some that do require help but OK if privacy is still respected.. But the thought of someone who cares matters to me. Altruism is not welcomed

mpjeep

Long-term care facilities have always been at issue even though they seem to profess "we care so you don't have to."

DeadBolt

How many were killed by fake scamdemic edicts, and allowed to pass with NOT 1 FAMILY MEMBER ? Government is what killed them.

Dak

You should go checkout the deaths per capital numbers at:

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

U.S. is 5th in the world for deaths per capita. Beyond the unnecessary and tragic deaths, it's an embarrassment. Because a large portion of our population didn't take this seriously, and found trivial inconveniences such as wearing a mask as just too much to ask from their freedoms to save their fellow Americans. Selfish and pathetic.

If those government edicts had been strict, and people followed them we wouldn't be where we are now.

Australia has under 1000 deaths from covid. Under a thousand. They have an outbreak currently in Victoria. 50 cases, they're freaked and locked everything down tighter than a drum. The whole city. And they'll beat that outbreak in a week or two, and be back to normal.

That's how a country of 25 million has so few deaths. They lock down temporarily when needed, and everyone shuts up and does what's good for the country. To see the response to such an international crisis from much of our country to trivialize it and snowflake about mask wearing is embarrassing.

We're at 3.5 million deaths so far globally. The flu kills 300K to 600K globally a year. That covid death count would be a lot less if people would take this seriously and be less concerned about what's convenient for them.

noitall

DAK. You waid the magic word "Mask" NO one bothered to wear an N95 mask NO ONE wore approved n95 masks. NO ONE - they were not avaiale. In your world the government favored home-made fashion statements. UV and sunlight kill virus and covis in seconds Proven science - but politically useless. Instead herd everyone inside, wear a useless home made mask, and stay 6 ft apart instead - and this killed thousands of innocent people..THOUSANDS. Where does "shut up" fit in with your cures that now seem silly THE VACCINE worked.

noitall

AND WE KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE. WE lived through the first wave of warehousing the old folks until the die.and then what. i am 90 but I am paranoid beyond belief.

Dak

"I am paranoid beyond belief"

You don't say.

UV and sunlight doesn't do you much good inside, at night, cloudy days. And there are ample studies showing benefits of masks, even ones that aren't N95 (which I have plenty of). Clearly you're not going to change you're mind, and there is a large portion of our country just like you. I'm not trying to change your mind. I've given up hoping any common sense or sense of curiosity to review the research will sink in with that population. They'll continue doing what they want, regardless of what the latest science shows is our best bet. Sound bites and conspiracy theories over informed decision making process.

I'm just ranting my frustration. Because in this unfortunate case, their ignorant decision making process has real impact on others.

drewski

Elder abuse is as sickening as child abuse. Elder care at home is exhausting to say the least. If you know someone in this situation, make time to give them a day or even a few hrs off. If you have some free time, visit an elder care facility and spent a few hrs chatting with a resident or two.

DeadBolt

Quite right, heck if America placed this much effort on abortions , we would almost wipe out unnecessary death here! FYI.... LAST YEAR ALONE PLANNED PARENTHOOD , (a baby death mill, which uses Medical Professionals , who were sworn to uphold life , ) murdered about 300k babys............. go figure. So, its not surprising to me that grown adults living in a free society move on about their business with no dictator edicts. Also, as a note, LAST YEAR, YOU WERE MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM AN ABORTION THEN THE FLU, OR THE SARS/COV2. Amazing eh?

mpjeep

My wife worked 25 years in banking, but when First Union bought out Wachovia, her employer, she retired, then went to school to get her CNA’s license. She now takes care of the elderly and sick in their homes.

You wouldn’t believe how many calls she gets from folks needing Respite care just so family members can get out once and a while.

Family members, who provide care for a loved one, absolutely need a little time to themselves. Help out if just for a few hours whenever you can.

Donna

Does NO good to report this. My neighbor went thru this abuse last summer from her so-called "friends". They stole from her and mentally abused her. It was reported to the police and the thieves were told to bring her stuff back; so no charges were brought against them. (wouldn't all criminals like to be given this opportunity). She is now in a nursing home in Grantsboro. She has a state assigned caretaker from Carteret DSS who won't return calls. (even though her voicemail says she will call you back within 48 hours) Fat chance! We have begged for them to bring her closer to Carteret Cty so her elderly friends can visit but I was told there are no closer facilities that take "state aided" people in our area. DSS is aware of how these "friends" abused this woman but nothing was done to them and never will. Now she has to suffer in a home away from home until she dies. There is a lot more to this story; I assure you.

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