Elder Abuse Awareness Day is just around the corner

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        The Ohio Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Commission will commemorate the 2021 Ohio Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 28.
        The observance is a time to reflect on a very important topic. We know a tremendous number of elder abuse cases go unreported everywhere in the country, and for various reasons.
        One of the primary reasons elder abuse goes unreported is the fear the victim may feel about the abuse being uncovered. Victims, both male and female, fear reporting it may lead to retaliation. They may think the abuse will worsen, especially if the abuse involves physical harm.
        Physical abuse may take many forms. It can range from withholding food, medical care or medications to beatings. Because many elderly people are shut-ins or may not go out in public very often, signs of physical abuse may be hidden for a long time.
        Financial abuse is another form of elder abuse. If someone steals from an elderly or disabled person, or defrauds him or her in any way, these crimes are usually prosecuted as felonies.
        Many times, financial elder abuse involves a family member or other persons who have control over the victim’s money and/or assets. These people may exert control over money or assets and either take them or use them to acquire something for themselves. For example, if a relative or other caretaker uses an elderly person’s money or credit card to buy something for themselves without permission, this is financial abuse and theft.
        I have written many times in this column about scams that target the elderly. One of these scams is commonly referred to as the “grandparent scam.” It involves someone calling a grandparent pretending to be a grandson or granddaughter to ask for some kind of financial help because they have gotten into trouble.
        They may say they have been arrested or hospitalized and need money to get bailed out of jail or to be released from the hospital. They pretend to be crying, making their voices hard to tell from a real grandson or granddaughter. Of course, the caller asks the senior not to tell the caller’s parents or other relatives to save them embarrassment over the situation.
        We had one such scam reported in Lake Township, but because of a column of ours they read on the subject, they didn’t fall for it. Unfortunately, many others have become victims of this scam, thinking they are helping a grandchild in a time of need.
        Ohio’s lawmakers saw fit to make many criminal charges involving elder abuse felonies, making penalties for such crimes more severe than abuse to other classes of people. The same applies to abuse of disabled people, regardless of age.
        There are far too many other types of elder abuse to be covered in one column, but we ask the public to be aware of such crimes. Do the right thing and either check into the situation or call your local law enforcement agency.
        The law also dictates that healthcare workers report suspicious indicators of elder and disabled person abuse. If they fail to report it, they also face severe penalties.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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