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More than 8,000 reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation were addressed in Maryland last year through various state agencies. Elder abuse can occur anywhere – in the home, in nursing homes, or other institutions. It affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races. In Queen Anne’s County, those who suspect abuse of elders who live in the community should call, Adult Protective Services at 410-758-8000.
On June 15, older adults in Maryland and those who care about them will participate in a national and world wide day highlighting the too often ignored issue of elder abuse. The theme for this year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is My World Your World Our World – Free of Elder Abuse. This day is a public call to action with special events held in various parts of the state. Those concerned about neglect and abuse will be wearing purple to show their concern that abuse be reported, addressed and prevented. In the United States, there are over one million reports of elderly and vulnerable adult abuse which is only the tip of the iceberg with only one in fourteen cases reported. Too often, seniors are abused, neglected and exploited by the people they trust the most. Abuse takes many forms, some involving intimidation or threats against the elderly, some involving neglect, and other involving financial trickery. The most common types of abuse are physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect by abandonment.
Concerns about those living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities can be reported to the Long Term Care Ombudsman at 410-758-0848. The Ombudsman is an advocate for those who live in long term care facilities, promoting resident rights and quality care. Periodic visits are made to residents and to observe conditions in facilities. The Ombudsman Receives and investigates complaints made by or for residents; educates residents and provides about resident’s rights and good care practices; promotes community involvement through volunteer opportunities, and Provides information to the public on nursing homes and other long term care facilities and services.
Everyone is encouraged to report suspected mistreatment and to stay in contact with older friends, neighbors and relatives maintaining communication will help decrease isolation, a risk factor for mistreatment. There are many services available in the county to provide support that can help elders maintain their health and well-being – a good defense against abuse.
Remember, you do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions.
For more information about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, go to www.aging.maryland.gov and to http://www.inpea.net/weaad.html