Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, along with the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) and a number of other local organizations, hosted a special event Thursday morning in recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness Day which is observed around the world on June 15.
Originally planned for Tracy Park in Portsmouth, the event was moved inside to the Scioto County Welcome Center to avoid the stormy weather. Director of the Elder Abuse Task Force Kaye Mason-Inoshita said she was pleased to see such a wonderful turnout, even though the weather was bad and the event was moved.
Joining with observances all over the world, Portsmouth Mayor David Malone presented a city proclamation declaring June 15 “Elder Abuse Awareness Day” in the city of Portsmouth.
“I encourage all residents to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of our seniors,” Malone said.
Also speaking Thursday was Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware, Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn, and Paige Robbins from the Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services Adult Protection Services.
According to the Administration on Aging, every year, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And while that number is quite staggering, experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as five cases go unreported.
Elder abuse includes any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Generally, a combination of psychological, social, and economic factors, along with the mental and physical conditions of the victim and the perpetrator, contribute to the occurrence of elder maltreatment. Risk factors may include a history of domestic violence, personal problems of abusers, isolation, caregiver stress, and personal characteristics of the elder.
“Today’s elders have experienced rich and fulfilling lives, imparted great knowledge, and demonstrated an unparalleled work ethic and sense of duty. We owe it to them to care for them when they are most vulnerable, as they did for us when we were most vulnerable. Our lives are like the rise and fall of the sun. Some of the most beautiful moments in life are when the sun rises and when the sun sets. We need to ensure the beauty continues until the very last days of our lives. For if don’t care for our elders, how can we expect anyone to care for us when our sun begins to set?” said Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware.
The event on Thursday helped to educate the public about elder abuse and to recognize Scioto County’s victims of elder abuse. As purple has been designated as the color for elder abuse awareness, the Portsmouth Garden Club, in collaboration with the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, planted 162 purple petunias in the park to represent the 162 reported cases of elder abuse in Scioto County in 2012. At the Welcome Center on Thursday, 162 balloons were also released outside after the rain finally stopped.
To further engage the community, the task force is asking Scioto County property owners and businesses to participate by planting purple flower gardens and tying purple ribbons around trees during the month of June.
“I thought long and hard about what to come and say here today,” said Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn. “Elder Abuse. Don’t do it. Really, what more is there to say?”
He said great strides have been made in the laws concerning elder abuse since he began practicing 19 years ago, but more work still needs to be done. He said one in 12 cases handled by the Scioto County Prosecutor last year involved theft from the elderly.
“Those at the most risk in our society are deserving of the most protection,” Kuhn said.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of abuse, exploitation or neglect, it is important to report the suspected abuse immediately. Call your doctor or confide in a family member or friend you trust, or call the Scioto County Adult Protective service worker within the Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services at 740-354-6661 to report elder abuse occurring in the community. To report abuse in long-term care facilities, call the AAA7 Ombudsman Program at 1-800-582-7277. If someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call your local police department or sheriff’s office, or 911 immediately.
For more information about the Task Force or the special event on June 13, please call Kaye Mason-Inoshita, director of the AAA7 Ombudsman Program and Chairperson for the Scioto County Elder Abuse Task Force, at 1-800-582-7277.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.