BY LINDSAY MCCOY
Times Bulletin News Writer
Elder abuse is a problem often overlooked in today's society, and it is
important that senior citizens know that there are resources available to them in these cases.
Van Wert Council on Aging Executive Director Kevin Matthews wants locals to know
that help can be found in Van Wert.
"Abuse of the elderly is an area where society is having a lot of problems," said Matthews. "Many seniors have come to a point where they have become powerless, have no financial resources, are dependent on someone else for their daily needs, and have become extra susceptible to abuse. These individuals can be trapped in these situations for long periods of time before anyone notices."
Unfortunately much of the abuse seen to the elderly comes from their own family members and caregivers through deprivation. Matthews noted that people tend to victimize those who are the easiest targets; someone easy to control and dominate. Caregivers often control all conversation leaving these aging victims with little or no say in their own care or lives. Caregivers may also neglect their everyday needs such as food and hygiene. The sad fact is that while such cases are widely reported, many additional cases often go unseen leaving people to suffer without outside help.
"2013 marks the first year in history that people over the age of 60 will be greater in number than those under the age of five," noted Matthews. "As the senior population grows, the chance for abuse also increases and people need to be made more aware of the issue at hand."
Van Wert offers its own services to the older generation of citizens in need. Those who are suffering from elder abuse or may be suspicious of such an incident can contact a handful of local organizations. Van Wert County Victim Services at 118 E. Main St. in the County Annex is one such place and can be contacted at (419)239-9800. Victim Services not only helps victims with the criminal justice process but also helps with rehabilitation and returning to a normal level of functioning. Van Wert County Job and Family Services is another agency that can work with seniors suffering from abuse. Job and Family Services is located at 114 E. Main St. and can be contacted at (419) 238-5430. Reports can also be given to the Van Wert Council on Aging (COA) who works closely with law enforcement to stop abuse crimes from continuing. COA is located at 220 Fox Rd. and can be reached at (419) 238-5011.
Elder abuse can be stopped at an early stage if those in contact with the victim look closely at warning signs. Physical signs of abuse are often the first to be noticed in such cases. Bruising, extreme weight loss, and lack of proper hygiene care are often sign of abuse to the dependent. A tell-tale sign that is often overlooked is mood change. Those being abused will often withdraw from the outside world and can lose interest in the things they enjoy most.
Matthews urges people to watch for warning signs in the older loved-ones in and around their lives. If a family member is the instigator of abuse, it takes an outside force to rescue the victim from these unnecessary conditions
SOURCE: The Times Bulletin
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