Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman is using the occasion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, to call attention to the problem of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of elders and urges citizens to learn the warning signs of mistreatment.

The older adult population is growing faster in the U.S. than younger populations, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many older adults require care and are vulnerable to violence perpetrated by a caregiver or someone they trust.

Chipman emphasized, “Elder abuse is common. Abuse, including neglect, battery, fraud, and exploitation, is experienced in about 1 and 10 people aged 60 and older who live in a home.” “A great many of these situations go unreported for many different reasons.  Whether that be because they don’t have the physical capability or lack of support to ask for help – or because they don’t want to accuse a caregiver or family member of harm and get them in trouble.”

Elder abuse generally occurs at the hands of a caregiver or a person the elderly trust. These types of elder abuse include:

  • Physical abuse is when an elder experiences illness, pain, injury, functional impairment, distress, or death because of the intentional use of physical force and includes acts such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, and burning.
  • Sexual abuse involves forced or unwanted sexual interaction of any kind with an older adult. This may include unwanted sexual contact or penetration or non-contact acts such as sexual harassment.
  • Emotional or Psychological abuse refers to verbal or nonverbal behaviors that inflict anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress on an older adult. Examples include humiliation or disrespect, verbal and non-verbal threats, harassment, and geographic or interpersonal isolation.
  • Neglect is the failure to meet an older adult’s basic needs. These needs include food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care.
  • Financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s money, benefits, belongings, property, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the older adult.

“Many of these situations are extremely troubling and sad. We depend on the community, friends, and family members to report abuse when it occurs so action can be taken to stop or prevent it in the future, as well as hold accountable the perpetrator,” said Chipman.

An individual who believes or has reason to believe that someone is an endangered adult and is a victim of neglect (including self-neglect), abuse, or exploitation is required by law to make a report to law enforcement (911), local Adult Protective Services, or through the Indiana APS Hotline at 800-992-6978. The report may be confidential.

Chipman concluded by emphasizing, “Exerting a little extra care in watching for signs of abuse or exploitation in our elderly neighbors and acquaintances is key to the foundation of public safety.  We should expect no less as fellow members of this community.”