LIMA — The elderly are easy targets for neglect, abuse and violence because of vulnerability. This was the message imparted to the community by members of the Allen County Elder Justice Interdisciplinary-Team during the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Cookout Thursday.
“(Elder abuse) is growing,” Jenny Knippen, Allen County Children Services and Adult Protective Services assessment workers supervisor. “We here in Allen County, we did, in 2017, 197 investigations into elder abuse or neglect.”
As the baby boomer generation ages, the need for services is growing with them, she said. Many have aging parents, and children should make sure they receive the services and care they deserve, Knippen said.
“We see anything from their basic needs not being met, not having access to even housing, the right food, access to their own money and of course there’s always physical abuse and sexual abuse just like with children,” she said. “Sometimes people are taking advantage of their financial situation, so of course there’s exploitation that can occur. The fact they’re older and vulnerable what makes them perfect victims.”
Elysia Bush, director of Elder Victim Ministry, said the most common form of elder abuse locally and nationally is monetary crimes — scams, identity theft and exploitation. She said the elder’s own children most often commit these crimes.
“Power of attorney is a common way that some family members will take advantage financially of an elder,” she said. “It’s kind of like having a joint checking account; they both have rights to make those financial decisions.”
Correctly constructed powers of attorney have safety stipulations describing the power each individual has under the document, Bush said. However, there are powers of attorney available online that are much more vague and can allow one to take advantage.
Using the rights powers of attorney give to spend an elderly person’s money on things not benefiting them is considered theft and is investigated as such, Bush said.
Kevin Martin, chief of the Lima Police Department, urged citizens to watch after neighbors. “Check on them. Make sure they’re going okay. Look in on people.”
Martin said developing relationships with elders in your neighborhood might help them speak up if they are in a questionable situation.
Elder Victim Ministry Ombudsmen, The Lima Police Department, Allen County Crime Victim Services, the Allen County Council on Aging Inc., Allen County Children Services and Allen County are the organizations that make up the I-Team.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362