Commissioners informed on elder abuse

Madison County Commissioners on Monday signed a proclamation designating Monday, June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Seated, from left: Commissioners Mark Forrest, David Dhume and Paul Gross; standing from left: Anna Schafer, Adult Protective Services supervisor, Lori Dodge Dorsey, director, Job & Family Services, Tammy Corlette and Cindy DeWitt, caseworkers, adult protective services.

Elder abuse happens more than 37 times per day across the state, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The Madison County Commissioners signed a proclamation Monday morning that designates Monday, June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The proclamation states that one in five incidents of elder abuse is believed reported. In 2014, Ohio recorded a total of 13,608 reports of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.

As the population grows older, the opportunities for elder abuse will rise, according to the local department of job and family services.

Exploitation of elder adults is the most common form of abuse, said Tammy Corlette, a caseworker in the department’s adult protective services unit. Caregivers with chemical dependency commonly inflict the abuse, she said.

Corlette said legislation is currently in the Ohio General Assembly to alter the definition of caregiver.

“We’re working on it through the Ohio Revised Code,” Corlette said. “We need a stronger support system through the court system.”

Being a caregiver for someone is stressful and drains a person’s energy, commissioner David Dhume said.

Dhume said caring for his mother, who has onset Alzheimer’s Disease, “is difficult.”

For an agency caring for elder adults, the difficulty lies in funding.

“The state gives us $1,500 a year for adult protective services,” said Lori Dodge-Dorsey, director of Madison County Job and Family Services. She said the agency also receives some federal funding, but that money has to be shared with children’s services.

“It’s used for the two most vulnerable groups we serve,” Dodge-Dorsey said.

Corlette said in addition to the shortage of funding, there’s a lack of help.

“We need more caregivers,” she said.

Dodge-Dorsey said the department is seeking to partner with other agencies in applying for grants.

In observance of Elder Abuse Awareness Day, people are encouraged to wear the color purple to work next Monday.

Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.