We are rightfully concerned about and should be vigilant when it comes to preventing child abuse. But something that often flies under the public radar is elder abuse.
We must be ever alert to that, too.
A recent report from county officials was disturbing. It found that more than 143 seniors facing some form of elder abuse had been referred to the Oneida County Office for the Aging & Continuing Care and its partners in the county’s Elder Abuse Coalition last year.
According to the county’s data, the largest number of cases - 51 - was self-neglect. That might be one of the tougher problems to keep track of since many elderly folks live alone and, if they have no family, could go days without any human interaction. That’s why it is incumbent on all of us who might know or at least be aware of shut-ins to make every effort to stay in touch with them to keep track of their well-being. In some cases, a friend, neighbor or even an acquaintance might be the only human contact an elderly person has for days or even weeks. Elderly people who live alone might neglect themselves in many ways - ranging from health care to nutrition - that could be harmful to them.
If you know an elderly person who is alone, periodic checks on their well-being could make the difference between life and death.
Other types of elder abuse include financial exploitation and caregiver neglect (both affected 20 seniors, county record show), while another 22 cases involved some type of “other domestic” abuse. Two cases involved a senior being controlled or isolated by another person. In cases other than self-neglect, family members were the most common culprits, accounting for 36 cases while friends accounted for 10 cases, professionals or paid caregivers for three cases and others for three cases.
Just as we me must be advocates for children, so must we be the eyes and ears for elderly folks who cannot adequately fend for themselves.