Fighting elder abuse is a major goal of the Ohio Attorney General’s office because the exploitation of senior citizens by con artists, fraudulent businesses, friends and even family members is a pervasive problem across Ohio.
Monica Walker, a caseworker with the Elder Justice Unit of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, provided statistics to Hillsboro Rotarians on Tuesday showing that one in nine Americans age 60 and older suffers abuse each year, and for every case reported, five more are believed to go unreported.
The problem grew to such proportions, said Walker, that the AG’s office felt compelled to increase protection initiatives.
“We received so many phone calls that something had to be done about it. Thank God for Mike DeWine,” said Walker, who was introduced by Rotarian Kevin Boys.
The result was the creation of the Elder Justice Initiative. According to a description provided by DeWine’s office, the initiative includes a team including Crime Victim Services, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, special prosecutions, consumer protection and health care fraud experts.
Team members help local communities with criminal elder abuse and financial exploitation investigations, forensic analysis, case presentation and prosecution, civil elder maltreatment investigations, victim advocacy and assistance, professional training and technical assistance, and education and outreach.
Walker said elder abuse can include physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse, as well as neglect and abandonment. Elderly people are also in danger of financial exploitation, said Walker.
“Elder abuse does not discriminate,” she said.
For more information or to get support for a victim of abuse, call 1-800-282-0515.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at [email protected].