The Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities began commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, with the Carroll County Board of Commissioners proclaiming June 2020 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Carroll County on Thursday.
The Bureau of Aging and Disabilities and Carroll County Government will join other communities throughout Maryland, the country and around the world to raise awareness about elder abuse.
“Elder Abuse Day, sometimes we’ll focus more on the financial part, but it can be physical abuse, it can be neglect of an elder, and it can be financial exploitation of an elder," said Michelle Jacobs, adult services supervisor with the Carroll County Department of Social Services.
Because Carroll County is relatively small compared to other Maryland counties, the number of elder abuse investigations aren’t as high as other counties, but investigations still occur. Between January and May last year 50 investigations were completed by the Carroll County Department of Social Services, with 99 completed between July and December that met the criteria for elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, according to Jacobs.
Elder abuse isn’t only physical but can take other forms including financial abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, according to Gail Gannon, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program Manager with the Bureau of Aging.
On June 15, the Bureau of Aging will host a no-contact shredding event at the Westminster Senior Center from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants just have to drive up, staying within their vehicles and pop their trunks to have volunteers unload their documents which will be safely and confidentially shredded on-site. The event is free and open to adults ages 60 and up and adults with disabilities.
“Shredding documents containing personal and financial information is an important way to protect older adults from identify theft,” Gannon said.
The bureau will also sponsor daily newspaper advertisements highlighting an aspect of elder abuse each day of the week, and provide educational literature on financial exploitation in packages to older adults through the bureau’s meal programs.
Common factors that contribute to elder abuse include opportunity, for financial abuse, caregiver exhaustion and lack of social supports and a history of domestic violence in the home, according to Gannon.
There are various ways to indicate forms of elder abuse.
“Physical abuse of course it’s going to be bruises scratches, broken bones, things like that. For someone who’s being financially abused, its them writing checks out to people who they wouldn’t normally, or being secretive about their finances, changes in their banking practices are changes in the bank account. Adding names to a bank account that they wouldn’t normally,” said Jacobs. “Those are things for financial for neglect can be things like dehydration and malnutrition. Not, not attending to health problems hazardous or unsafe living conditions, poor hygiene, not eating, things like that. And then for abuse of course I said you know producing purposes, fractures, things like that.”
The first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was held on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, according to a Carroll County Government news release.
The Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities has held an event to raise awareness for the past several years, according to Gannon.
“Last year, our WEAAD event theme was ‘Lifting Up Voices.’ We hosted a panel discussion at the South Carroll Senior Center that featured leaders from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office, Adult Protective Services, and others,” said Gannon. “This year for WEAAD, we had initially planned to host a screening of the feature film ‘Last Will and Embezzlement,’ in which actor Mickey Rooney describes how he feel victim to financial exploitation by people close to him whom he trusted. We were also scheduled to conduct a series of Fraud Bingo events at senior living developments throughout the county to help raise awareness about financial exploitation. Unfortunately, financial exploitation is the most common form of abuse perpetrated against older adults. We look forward to holding those events in 2021.”
According to the Carroll County Government release, the goal of elder abuse awareness is to strengthen social support structures, reduce social isolation, protect communities and families against elder abuse and build a nation that lives up to the promise of protecting vulnerable adults in Carroll County.
If you suspect elder abuse, call the Carroll County State Attorney Scam Hotline at 443-340-5649, Adult Protective Services at 410-386-3434, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, for abuse in a long term care setting, at 410-386-3800 and in cases of immediate danger, call the police.