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Attorney General Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Encourages Georgians to Learn Signs of Elder Abuse

The Office of the Attorney General is recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by encouraging all Georgians to learn the signs and how to report instances of abuse.

“According to the National Council on Aging, up to five million older Americans are abused every year, and the annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Sadly, the perpetrators of abuse are often family members or trusted caregivers. We can all play a role in protecting those most vulnerable, and so on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day our office is encouraging Georgians to learn how to spot the signs of elder abuse and know where to report it.”

In addition to the information below, consumers can learn more about how to protect seniors from financial exploitation by attending the Zoom webinar on Tuesday, June 15 from 3:00pm-4:30pm on “Financial Scams Affecting the Elderly,” which we are co-sponsoring with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, and the American Bankers Association. To join the webinar at the scheduled time, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83419646033?pwd=eTZwakpMVXJiV2JNMGs5NVd3YVAvUT09#success. If prompted, enter passcode 458504, webinar ID: 834 1964 6033. Consumers may also phone in to the call (audio only) by dialing 312-626-6799 or 929-436-2866.

WHAT IS ELDER ABUSE?

Elder abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Below are explanations, signs of abuse to look out for, and resources for reporting abuse and protecting loved ones.

Physical Abuse

  • Not only does physical abuse include hitting, beating or intentionally hurting someone; it also includes the improper use of restraints or medications, forcing someone to remain in a bed or chair, or forcing someone to remain in a room (including locking them in).
  • Signs of such abuse can include unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, and bleeding; sprained or broken bones; and injuries that happen over and over. Another suspicious sign is when the person doesn’t want to see a doctor about his/her injuries.
  • Sexual abuse includes inappropriate touching, rape, or making someone watch pornography or take off his or her clothes.
  • Signs of sexual abuse include torn or bloody clothes, especially underwear; sexually transmitted diseases; bruises, especially on both sides of the body or around the breasts or genitals; or bleeding from the vagina or bottom.

Neglect

  • This happens when caregivers don’t tend to an older person’s needs. That can include not giving the person enough food, water, clothing, housing and medications or abandoning him/her.
  • Signs of neglect include the person being messy or unclean; having dirty clothes, unkempt hair or skin rashes; sudden weight loss or loss of appetite; bedsores; or missing or broken dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids or walkers.

Emotional/Psychological Abuse

  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse includes threatening someone with violence, nursing home placement, abandonment or neglect; threats, insults, harassment, name calling or intimidating; isolating the person from friends, family or activities; excessively criticizing; ignoring; making derogatory or slanderous statements; repeatedly raising the issue of death; and excluding the older person from decision making when he or she is capable and wants to be included.
  • The victim of emotional or psychological abuse may act withdrawn or frightened, have behavior changes that you can’t explain, have trouble sleeping, rock back and forth or mumble to him/herself, act depressed, confused or show no interest in things he/she used to enjoy.

Financial Exploitation

  • Financial exploitation is the misuse of financial resources for another’s gain.
  • Signs include: missing money or valuables, credit card charges the individual did not make, unusual activity in bank accounts, unpaid bills, rent or taxes, eviction notices, legal documents (such as will or power of attorney) signed by an elderly person who could not have understood what he or she was signing, and signatures on checks or documents that appear to be forged.

Reporting Elder Abuse:

  • To report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of an older adult or disabled adult who lives in a private residence, contact your local police by dialing 911 or contact Adult Protective Services at 1-866-55AGING – Press “3.” Additionally, you can visit aging.ga.gov then click the “Report Elder Abuse” tab.
  • To report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of an older adult, disabled adult or resident in a facility, contact Healthcare Facility Regulation: 1-800-878-6442.

Resources

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division (CPD) publishes the Georgia Consumer Protection Guide for Older Adults, a valuable resource for avoiding financial exploitation. Consumers can contact CPD to request a hard copy of the guide or visit consumer.ga.gov to download the guide in English or Spanish.

To read more about elder abuse, visit law.georgia.gov/key-issues/abuse-elder-risk-georgians.

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