Abuse of the elderly can take many forms.

It can be physical, mental and emotional.

"But the one we hear most about is financial abuse," said Mantura Gallagher, chairman, Schuylkill County board of commissioners.

This involves situations, for example, whereby a person or persons prey on the elderly by acquiring power of attorney, especially for the sake of finances, and then proceed to drain the elderly victim's assets.

At a board meeting, one of three county meetings held Wednesday in Hometown in part to recognize the 200th anniversaries of both Rush Township and Schuylkill County, the commissioners proclaimed the week of May 16-22 to be Elder Abuse Awareness Week before a group of 40 residents.

"It's an epidemic that we're trying to fight," said Gallagher, joined by commissioners Francis McAndrew and Frank Staudemeier.

Also on hand were members of the Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance (SEAPA).

The organization encourages citizens to recognize and report suspected incidences of elder abuse.

Homes, churches and business in the county are displaying large silver ribbons to send a signal that they support SEAPA's efforts to make Schuylkill County safer for seniors.

Smaller lapel ribbons are being worn to raise awareness and in support of SEAPA's stand against elder abuse.

The organization has partnered with the commissioners, the Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services, the Schuylkill Deanery, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, local newspapers and radio, and businesses.

SEAPA is available for community outreach and education. Those interested in securing a speaker for their organization can contact Carolyn Tenaglia, chairman, (570) 628-3931, ext. 3305, or Georgene Fedoriska, co-chair, (570) 622-3103. Additional information is available at their Website, www.schuylkillelderabuse.com. To report elderly abuse in Carbon County, contact the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging, (610) 824-7830.