PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 15, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

The signs of elder abuse can be as subtle as a cluttered home or as obvious as a broken bone.  On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15), Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Commissioner Mary O'Dowd joined protective services leaders in recommending that all state residents look for and help prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

"While police, Adult Protective Services (APS), the Office of the Public Guardian and other social service agencies play key roles in combating elder abuse, vulnerable adults need everyone's help to remain safe and secure in the community," said O'Dowd.

A vulnerable adult is a senior or adult with a disability who cannot make his or her own decisions, does not recognize when he or she is being victimized or at risk, or cannot take steps to protect themselves and their rights.

Deputy Commissioner William Conroy and Acting Public Guardian Helen Dodick joined several officials at the Reading Senior Center in Trenton today to talk to seniors about how they can protect themselves. New Jersey State Police Sgt. Jeffrey Poedubicky and Chris Santoro, the APS Supervisor for Mercer County, also spoke to the seniors.

Speakers provided tips for spotting elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.  They were also given information on how Adult Protective Services can protect victims from further abuse and investigate abuse cases.  Seniors at the seminar were also given information on how to stop the latest attempts by criminals to take advantage of the elderly including tips on avoiding identity theft, internet and phone scams, and credit card fraud. 

Among the signs of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation are:

 

  • o Signs of neglect may include individuals with a lack basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean or appropriate clothing. They may lack medical aids, live in hazardous conditions or be confined to bed without care.

 

  • o Victims of financial exploitation may lack amenities they could easily afford, or give away money or property when they can't comprehend an transaction or what it means.

 

  • o Emotional abuse can sometimes be detected in individuals who have unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawing from normal activities or unexplained changes in alertness. They can also become isolated, or their caregivers can be verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, or uncaring.

 

  • o Signs of physical abuse may be easy to see, but may be downplayed by the victim and his or her caregiver. Look for inadequately explained fracture, bruises, welts, cuts sores or burns.

 Individuals concerned with the immediate safety of a vulnerable adult should call their local police or 911.  Those with concerns about potential abuse, neglect or exploitation should call their county Adult Protective Services (APS) program or the state's senior information and referral service toll-free at 1-800-792-8820.

More on APS is available here:  http://www.state.nj.us/health/senior/aps.shtml