Ohio Governor Mike DeWine

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined organizations around the world in commemorating Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Friday, June 15. The event calls attention to the problem of abuse and neglect of older adults.

“Elder abuse is too often overlooked or underreported,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Victims may fear retaliation, or they may not be able to protect themselves. At the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, we’re committed to bringing attention to this serious problem and working hard to stop it.”

Elder abuse may include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect. For every case reported to authorities, several more are believed to be unreported. Perpetrators may include family members (such as adult children or spouses), caregivers, or others. Risk factors include social isolation, bereavement, cognitive decline, dependence on another for care, and depression.

Warning signs of elder abuse may include:

-- Changes in an older adult’s physical appearance, such as weight loss or unexplained bruising or bleeding

-- Changes in an older adult’s personality or mood

-- Changes in an older adult’s finances or money management

-- A dominating, threatening caregiver or new “best friend”

-- Exclusion from other family members or friends

-- Changes in an older adult’s home environment

To protect Ohio’s older adults, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office works with local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases and investigates patient abuse and neglect in long-term care settings.

Through the Ohio Attorney General’s Elder Justice Initiative, which DeWine launched in 2014, the office also provides support, education, and outreach services to combat elder financial exploitation and abuse. The Ohio Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Commission, which includes members representing dozens of agencies and associations, also provides a forum for improving elder justice throughout the state.

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A recent survey conducted by the commission identified prevention as a top priority area for research on elder abuse. The survey, which received responses from about 450 people across the state, asked respondents how they would allocate resources among several research questions.

The top question was “What programs and policies can best prevent elder abuse before it happens?” followed by “What programs and policies can best serve victims after elder abuse has begun?”

The survey results were consistent among respondents from urban and rural regions and among different types of professionals, such as advocates and researchers.

On June 25, the Ohio Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Commission and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will hold a free event to raise awareness about elder abuse and to bring together advocates and professionals from across the state.

The event will examine risk factors, the impact of diminished capacity, and other issues. Details and registration information can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

To help prevent fraud, which is estimated to cost older Americans billions of dollars, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office also will present several “senior scams” workshops at locations across the state.

To request assistance, training, or more information about elder justice issues, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

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