According to the Clinton County Women's Center, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the third-highest percentage of elderly residents in the United States with nearly 2 million residents older than 65.
In addition, the fastest growing segment of Pennsylvania's population includes those who are 85 or older.
This population often is susceptible to various forms of abuse, including physical and mental abuse, financial exploitation and neglect.
The Clinton County Women's Center believes that it is everyone's responsibility to play a role in the prevention of elder abuse.
They have provided some things to watch for:
Pay close attention to an elder person's well-being; take notice of any unusual bruises, scrapes or wounds that do not seem to be healing properly.
Pay close attention to signs of poor hygiene, improper medication, malnutrition or soiled clothing, as these could be signs of neglect.
Look closely for signs of low self-esteem, extreme changes in mood, withdrawal, confusion or disorientation, or suicidal behavior, as these could be signs of psychological abuse.
According to the center, the elder population can easily fall victim to financial abuse as well.
Some signs to watch for include:
Keep a close eye on their bank account information. Watch for unusual or large withdrawals, as this can be a sign of exploitation of the person's financial resources. Also, the elderly population are at risk of identity theft. If someone does not pay close attention to their credit card or bank account history and balance, this is an easy way for someone to wipe out their accounts.
Pay attention to things like frequent calls from telemarketers, poorly done home improvements, ongoing donations to charities or religious groups or numerous product purchases. These can seem like small amounts of money to someone who has a normal income, but to those who have limited incomes, it can put them in real financial stress. It can even result in the elderly person going without badly needed medications or even basic needs, such as food and utilities.
Talk with them about their daily routines and the people they come in contact with. This is to ensure that nothing unusual has happened or that nothing is being concealed.
Sadly enough, statistics show that elder abuse happens at higher rates in such areas as nursing homes, personal care facilities and even by their own family members.
There are various reasons why elder abuse is not reported, such as:
Oftentimes an elder victim does not even realize that they are a victim of abuse because of diminished mental awareness.
Fear of not being believed.
Fear of repercussions they may have to endure for talking about the abuse to someone.
For more information, contact the Clinton County Women's Center at 748-9539.