YUMA, AZ - Elderly abuse, a crime we could all eventually fall victim to, yet it's often ignored.
Elisa Davis with Western Arizona Council of Governments who runs the Yuma County's Elder Abuse Coalition says "It's not as recognized as child abuse is, both are equally important yet their different populations. However, I think it's easier to step in when you see a child being abused then if you see someone older being abused."
Davis says people often consider elder abuse a family matter. However, she says the crime is on the rise and in 2010 206 cases were reported to adult protective services in Yuma County. Of those statistics nearly 84% involved those 60 and older, 33% identified the offender as a family member, and 28% involved self neglect.
According to experts elderly abuse is where child abuse was 20 to 25 years ago, 1 in 30 cases is reported and is referred to as the silent crime. Davis says, "If the person that's driving them to the store to get groceries is the one that's abusing them financially their not going to report it because that's their only way to get to the grocery store."
Davis says it's important for people to recognize signs of abuse because it is not always obvious.She says, "A lot of times what you can see is depression, sadness a loss of weigh or unexplained injuries. They maybe saying their falling if you're seeing bruising in order not to have to tell what actually happened."
Judy Arnold with the Greater Foot Hills Helping Hands is one of many Yuma organizations helping the elderly with daily task free of charge. She says in her 15 years working with the elderly financial abuse is most common.
One recent case that stands out to her is that of an elderly lady who recently passed but was taken advantage of by her beautician and housekeeper. Arnold says "She was able to get access to the bank account and stole about $12,000"
To report elder abuse contact Adult Protective Services at 1-877-SOS-ADULT (767-2385). You may also go online at www.azdes.gov/reportadultabuse or contact local law enforcement at 78-CRIME.
WACOG and the Yuma County's Elder Abuse Coalition will be holding a "I Will" Prevent Elder Abuse event to bring awareness on the silent crime and ways to prevent you or a loved one from falling victim.
The event will take place on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th from 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. at 2951 S. 21st Dr. Yuma, AZ 85364.
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