Close family and friends are best protection against elder abuse

Jun 6, 2012

New Hanover County has designated June as “Elder Abuse Awareness Month.”

In cooperation with the Cape Fear Elder Abuse Prevention Network, county authorities are urging citizens to learn about the signs.  WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports on why officials are working to prevent an up-tick in elder abuse reports. 

In New Hanover County, the population of adults 60 and older is outnumbered by kids up to 17 years old.  However, county officials say that by 2030, the older adult population will surpass those young people – and New Hanover County will see a 116% spike in the number of senior adults.  As the elderly population grows – so will the potential for elder abuse. 

Mistreatment of the elderly can be in the form of neglect by a caretaker, self-neglect, or exploitation of adults who are not able to protect themselves.   The most common form of elder abuse is self–neglect – which can be a result of dementia, illness, overmedication, isolation – or a host of other causes. 

Officials say unexplained bruises or more serious injuries could be a sign your older loved one is in trouble.  Missing ATM or credit cards, or the transfer of property or financial control to another person should raise red flags.  The best way to combat elder abuse:  maintain frequent and close contact and learn more about the warning signs.

If you suspect any family member or neighbor is experiencing elder abuse call 911 or your local social services department. 

For more information on how to spot elder abuse, click here.  And remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  Let us know if you have experiences with elder abuse that you'd like to share.  

New Hanover County Department of Social Services' monthly television show, "Leading by Results", will feature four skits to help people or family members recognize the signs of elder abuse.  "Leading by Results" airs on NHCTV, New Hanover County Television.