Senior Center hosts elder abuse awareness day

| June 18, 2019

Sylvia Pla-Raith spoke at the senior center to raise awareness for elder abuse. She is the lead staff of the attorney general’s elder abuse commission and the director of the elder justice initiative.

COSHOCTON – One in 10 people over the age of 60 will be a victim of some type of elder abuse in their lifetime. The Coshocton Senior Center is dedicated to raising elder abuse awareness and on Tuesday, June 18, visitors to the center were encouraged to wear purple in support of elder abuse awareness.

“We partner every year with the senior center to promote awareness of elder abuse in the community,” said Anne Randles, adult protective services, Coshocton County Job and Family Services. “We think it’s beneficial for everyone, not only seniors, which is why we thought it was a good topic for today.”

Elder abuse is defined as any physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and can also include neglect, exploitation and abandonment. In 90 percent of cases, seniors know their abuser.

“Many people have heard about elder abuse, but don’t realize how much of a problem it is,” said Christy Neighbor, director of the senior center. “For seniors who depend on others to meet their basic needs, getting information and raising awareness to them is vital. Most abusers are ‘trusted others.’ That’s why it’s even more difficult for them to talk about or report.”

Before lunch was served at the center on June 18, guest speaker Sylvia Pla-Raith discussed popular scams targeted at seniors and elder abuse. Pla-Raith is the lead staff of the attorney general’s elder abuse commission and the director of the elder justice initiative.

“What we are trying to do is get seniors to ask for help early on in the abuse,” said Pla-Raith. “It’s a severely under-reported problem. We want them to say something to someone so they can try to get help. The longer they wait, the more drastic the intervention needed and the less choices they will have.”

There were 52 cases of elder abuse reported in Coshocton County in 2018.

“One of our responsibilities in the prevention of elder abuse here at the senior center and when delivering meals is to establish good relationships with our seniors,” said Neighbor. “They are more apt to talk with people or in places where they feel comfortable and not judged.”

Pla-Raith spoke about how scammers can find people through telephone numbers, the Internet, and going door-to-door. She also discussed the variety of popular scams out there targeted specifically to seniors such as the grandparent scam where someone will call and pretend to be an injured grandchild, the computer repair scam where they insist your computer is damaged usually with a virus and needs to be repaired, the home improvement scam where they contact a person offering to do home repairs, and the fake check scam where scammers send a fake check and ask you to pay a certain fee to cash the check.

“Don’t keep the scammer on the phone because if you’re on the phone with them for more than a few seconds, you could accidently give them information they can use,” said Pla-Raith. “Hang up immediately, or if it’s a number you don’t know, don’t answer it.”

Pla-Raith also reminded seniors to never reveal their social security number over the phone.

“They use your identity to steal your good credit, which is another reason why seniors are targeted,” said Pla-Raith.

Pla-Raith ended her presentation by talking about elder abuse.

“The most dangerous part about elder abuse is more often than not, it’s committed by someone you know,” she said.

Elder abuse includes physical, bruises, cuts, sores, rope marks, etc.; emotional, inflicting mental pain and anguish verbally and non-verbally, humiliating, threating; sexual, any unwanted sexual contact; neglect, the failure to provide food, shelter, and other basic needs; exploitation, the illegal taking of funds, property, or other assets; and abandonment, leaving an elderly person you previously cared for.

“It’s important here at the center and everyone to create awareness of the issue,” said Neighbor. “Your participation in a local senior center can play an important role in the process of prevention by staying social and maintaining a relationship with others your age and friends who will check on you.”

To report elder abuse, contact Coshocton County Job and Family Services at 740-622-1020 or contact the sheriff’s office after hours at 740-622-2411.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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