July is elder abuse awareness month and the Prairie Council on Aging is letting West Central Illinoisans know that help is available.
The goal of the Prairie Council on Aging is to provide services to people over 60, with a social or economic need, to help keep them in their own homes, independently for as long as possible.
The number of elderly abuse cases has doubled in the past year for the PCOA, with over 75 cases currently active, in the coverage area of Morgan, Cass, Scott, Greene and Jersey Counties.
Nancy Thorsen, executive director for the PCOA, says there are several full time elder abuse investigators, but unfortunately the problem is alive and well in the area. Thorson highlights who is most at risk for elder abuse.
“The individuals who we serve on average are 75 years old even though we can take reports on anyone who is over 60 years old,” says Thorsen.
“We can also take reports for disabled individuals who are adults. So anyone who is 18-59 years old and disabled we can take them in as well.”
Thorsen says the signs of elder abuse are very similar to any other kind of abuse.
“Changes in bank accounts and financial exploitation is the number one abuse reported,” says Thorsen.
“Beyond their finances, it is change in appetite, physical bruises or scratches or a change in health. Perhaps they have been pushed or fallen and are now unable to walk or not as mobile as they use to be.”
Thorsen adds that elderly people do much better when they stay connected in the community.
“We want people to have several groups that are looking out for them and expecting to see them at various times,” says Thorsen.
“It could be everyday at McDonald’s or at church. We would love to have people stay connected because they will do better.”
An anonymous 24 hour hotline is available to report elder abuse at 1-866-800-1409.
To learn more about the Prairie Council on Aging organization call 217-479-4619.