June 07, 2010

State Officials Spread Word on How to Spot Elder Abuse

Experts from the Department of Health and Senior Services will host a series of meetings this month to discuss ways you can help an elderly person avoid becoming a victim of abuse.

The presentations, prompted by World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, will focus on how to spot elder abuse and how to report it to authorities.

Abuse of the elderly is a growing problem in Missouri, where officials last year received an average of 85 reports a day of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Of the 30,871 reports the department received in 2009, about 10 percent involved financial exploitation. Financial exploitation occurs when an elderly or disabled adult's resources are diverted for another person's gain.

Margaret Donnelly, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), said the elderly are often prime targets because they may need help with daily tasks and might be socially isolated. But they often have significant assets. Elder abuse can go unnoticed because it is often hidden from view.

"We can reduce such abuses and the toll they take on seniors if victims' neighbors, friends and relatives know the signs," Donnelly said. "These can range from obvious problems such as bruises, soiled clothing or unsafe living conditions to more subtle concerns such as unpaid bills, weight loss or depression."

Other signs of neglect or abuse include a senior's lack of necessities, such as food, or problems with utilities or medication, Donnelly said. Elder abuse tends to be underreported because the victim often has an emotional bond with the perpetrator.

The consequences of abuse can be especially serious for older adults because their bones are more brittle and recuperation takes longer. Even a relatively minor injury can cause serious and permanent damage.

The presentations on elder abuse are already scheduled at senior centers and senior housing complexes from St. Joseph to Chillicothe to St. Louis. The meetings are scheduled from June 9 through June 28. See below for a complete listing.

Donnelly urged Missourians to join the rest of the world in donning purple on June 15 to raise awareness of elder abuse.
To raise awareness further, the National Council on Elder Abuse will run a 15-second informational piece featuring actor William Mapother on U.S. movie screens. Mapother plays Ethan Rom on the TV show "Lost." The announcements will run until June 24.

In Missouri, the Department of Health and Senior Services receives and investigates reports of abuse and neglect of the elderly and persons with disabilities. Anyone who suspects a senior or disabled Missourian is being abused, neglected or exploited should call the department's toll-free hotline at 1-800-392-0210.

List of elder abuse presentations by DHSS staff in June:

9:00 a.m. June 9
South County Senior Center
9415 Gentry
St. Louis
Presenters: Jennifer Indelicato and Karen Siegel

10:15 a.m. June 9
West County Senior Center
14535 Manchester
Presenter: Helga Werth-Morgan

12:30 p.m. June 9
Clinton Senior Center
970 E. Sedalia Ave.
Presenter: Wanda Staley

10:00 a.m. June 15
Green Lantern Senior Center
506 S. Linn Ave.
Presenter: Karen Klearman

10:45 a.m. June 15
Southside Senior Center
2215 S. Fremont
Presenter: Randy Weaver

11:00 a.m. June 15
Nodaway Senior Center
1210 E. 1st St.
Presenter: Karen Worthington

11:00 a.m. June 15
St. Clair County Senior Center
120 Pine St.
Presenter: Wanda Staley

11:30 a.m. June 15
Slater Senior Center
123 Main St.
Presenters: Christy Thorp and Kim Chastine

12:30 p.m. June 15
Hickory County Senior Center
Hwy. 54
Presenter: Wanda Staley

11:30 a.m. June 16
Warsaw Senior Center
920 Gunstock
Presenters: Renee Mazurek or Deana Schlesselman

11 a.m. June 17
Cameron Nutrition Site
315 E. 3rd
Presenter: Karen Worthington

11 a.m. June 17
Cole Camp Senior Center
206 Jungle St.
Cole Camp
Presenter: Renee Mazurek or Deana Schlesselman

11:30 a.m. June 18
Concordia Senior Center
710 Main St.
Presenters: Christine Walther and Deana Schlesselman

10:45 a.m. June 22
Mercer County Senior Center
110 Broadway
Presenter: Christal Reeter

11:00 a.m. June 22
Washington Senior Center
1459 W. 5th St.
Presenter: Teresa Gentry

11:30 a.m. June 22
Calvin Senior Center
1412 N. 3rd St.
St. Joseph
Presenter: Haley Ludington

11:30 a.m. June 23
Wesley Towers (senior housing complex)
1002 Francis St.
St. Joseph
Presenter: Kim Piper

11:15 a.m. June 25
Stockton Senior Center
510 E. Hwy. 32
Presenter: Wanda Staley

11:30 a.m. June 25
Grand River Multipurpose Center
440 Locust
Presenter: Jamie Wes

11:00 a.m. June 28
Sullivan Senior Center
730 W. Main St.
Presenter: Teresa Gentry