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SCDJFS Recognizes Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Tammy Moore Morton, SCDJFS Director, Ashleigh Call, APS, Andrea Freeland, APS, Rep Justin Pizzulli, Caitlin Maloney, APS, Rhonda Porter, SS Supervisor, Jennifer Bricker, APS.

The Scioto County Dept of Job and Family Services held their Elder Abuse Task Force meeting on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. This task force is led by the Adult Protective Services unit and is comprised of community partners including law enforcement, prosecutor, legal aid, State Fire Marshal, hospital social workers, Area Agency on Aging, EMA, and others that have direct contact with our local population of senior citizens aged 60 and over. In recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15, 2024, the Task Force hosted Representative Justin Pizzulli, to share experiences and challenges with him, that are faced locally when serving the elderly population. Elder abuse is defined as any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult aged 60 or over.

The Task Force is an invitation only group of community partners that meet quarterly to identify particularly difficult cases of elder abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation. Community partners brainstorm together to try to figure out the best way to serve this population. This Task Force is committed to assisting these vulnerable citizens and providing options for them based on their individual needs.

In 2023, Scioto County Adult Protective Services received 354 referrals of elder abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation. 59% of those referrals were screened in and investigated. Self-neglect was the leading type of case investigated in Scioto County, followed closely by exploitation, then neglect, and physical abuse. Most victims of elder abuse are women, but there are some reports of men. Older adults without family or friends nearby and people with disabilities, memory problems, or dementia are more at risk for abuse. In almost 90% of elder abuse incidents, the perpetrator is a family member.

Rhonda Porter, Social Services Supervisor – APS unit, explained, “We have seen an explosion of exploitation cases recently, namely ‘Romance Scams.’ Predators convince these elderly people, who are very lonely, that they are in love with them and will come be with them if they will send money.” Sadly, many do. At one time the telephone was the biggest concern with these predators, but with newer technology, the scams have become very sophisticated. Tammy Moore Morton, SCDJFS Director said, “With the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), scammers can now send online videos of celebrities talking directly to the elderly victims. It is very difficult to convince them that the video is fake, and the celebrity is not talking to them. It is heart-breaking.” All the while, thousands of dollars are being stolen from them.

Representative Pizzulli took in a lot of information about challenges that Adult Protective Services faces in Scioto County. He added, "Supporting Elder Abuse Awareness Month this June is crucial to ensuring the dignity, safety, and well-being of our senior citizens. By raising awareness and promoting preventive measures, we can protect our loved ones from neglect, exploitation, and abuse. Thank you SCDJFS and Director Moore, your love for our most vulnerable population is inspiring to us all.”

Elder abuse is widespread. An estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims. However, experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported. Research suggests that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.

If you know of someone age 60 or over, who is experiencing abuse, neglect, and/or financial exploitation, you can make a referral 24/7/365 by calling the Statewide APS Referral Line at:

1-855-OHIO-APS (1-855-644-6277). For referrals specific to Scioto County, you can call Scioto County APS Referral Line during business hours – Monday-Friday from 8am-4:00pm at 1-740-354-6661, Option 1. For referrals made after business hours, please call the Statewide APS Referral Line.


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