Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

Legislature urges vigilance against elder abuse

July 5, 2007

TOPEKA -- State officials recently urged Kansans to be on the lookout for elderly persons who may be abused.

"Every day, somewhere in Kansas, a senior is physically abused or financially exploited," said Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee. "Public awareness and community involvement is the key to preventing and prosecuting these crimes."

In Kansas last year, Adult Protective Services received more than 11,000 reports of alleged elder abuse, and investigated more than 7,400 cases, according to Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Officials said crimes against the elderly come in the form of physical abuse, sexual assault, neglect and, increasingly, financial exploitation.

"That is some of the worst for people who have saved their entire lives for their later years, and then have that money squandered by someone else," Jordan said.

And in most cases, the abuse comes from a family member or caregiver.

"We need to stop physically abusing them, but we also need to keep our hands off their money," Greenlee said.

"That's the message to adult children. That just because you have the ability to assist someone who is a senior, you do not have the right to take their money," she said.

She said it's extremely difficult for seniors to call authorities once they realize their children have been exploiting them.

Jordan said the public should watch for signs of elder abuse, such as changes in a senior's mood or depression, or if they seem overly anxious.

If someone suspects an elderly person is being abused, Jordan and Greenlee said they should call the Kansas Protection Report Center at (800) 922-5330, or their local police department.

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