Today is the fifth “World Elder Abuse Day” and an Iowa expert says it’s designed to bring more awareness to the problem. Linda Hildreth oversees the Department on Aging program that seeks to raise awareness in Iowa.
Hildreth says elder abuse, neglect and exploitation is such and underrecognized and unspoken problem and the June 15th day is a time when they ask Iowans to stay alert to the possible signs of abuse of elder Iowans. She says if you see such abuse, you can call 1-800-362-2168 to report abuse.
Hildreth says abuse can take many forms including pressuring someone for money or property or illegally using a person’s money and assets. She says you should look for signs that indicate this could be happening.
Hildreth says the elderly person may not have wanted for much, and then they start having trouble paying bills or for food and don’t seem to have money for prescriptions, while the person that is supposed to be taking care of them may seem to have more things, like a new car for example. “That…makes you a little more suspicious that some financial exploitation is occurring,” Hildreth explains. Hildreth says there can also be emotional signs that abuse is taking place.
“If somebody is typically outgoing and all of a sudden they’re withdrawn and isolated and you just don’t see them as much or when you do see them, their personality has changed….when people’s personalities change and their situations change, it really should arouse your suspicion,” Hildreth says. You are dealing with adults and Hildreth says that sometimes raises issues, but Hildreth says there is help available.
“It’s rather embarrassing at times when you have say family members or a close friend of neighbor that is taking advantage of you, and to have to admit that, that’s difficult,” Hildreth says. But she says if you call and let them know what’s going on the Area Agencies on Aging can go out and do a welfare check and see if they need any help or assistance.
Hildreth says over 2,800 people were assisted by the Iowa Department on Aging Elder Abuse Initiative Program in 2009. To find out more information, go on-line to: www.aging.iowa.gov, and to locate resources for older adults and people with disabilities go to: www.lifelonglinks.org.