To mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day earlier this week, Secretary of Aging John Michael Hall urged citizens to report any suspected abuse of older adults by calling the state's elder abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505.
"Our older residents deserve protection from abuse. Whether they are the target of financial exploitation by a stranger, physical abuse by a neighbor, neglect by a relative or the object of some other form of abuse, the commonwealth is prepared to intervene. But we need the help of responsible Pennsylvanians to let us know when they see abuse happening," said Hall.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day calls attention to the problem of abuse and to promote prevention. Abuse includes abandonment, physical and emotional harm, and sexual and financial exploitation. Neglect can involve knowingly not providing proper nutrition, medical attention, physical hygiene and placing the person in an isolated environment. Signs of self-neglect include an uncharacteristic disheveled appearance, weight loss, trash and newspapers piling up and failure to see an older, vulnerable person outside their home for a long period of time. The number-one reported and substantiated type of elder abuse in Pennsylvania is self-neglect followed by caregiver neglect and financial exploitation. Approximately 14,000 reports of abuse of older residents are received each year in the commonwealth.
A national study recently found an estimated 1 in 9 older adults is reported to be abused. Pennsylvania has 52 Area Agencies on Aging which take calls from individuals at risk or from those who suspect abuse or neglect. These reports are fully investigated and turned over to law enforcement when necessary. The Department of Aging's Institute on Protective Services at Temple University has worked with many counties to develop collaborative multi-disciplinary elder abuse task forces. These groups strengthen relationships with district attorneys, banks and law enforcement to uncover and investigate cases of older adult victimization. For more information, visit www.aging.state.pa.us or call (717) 783-1549.