Coordinated Community Response Column

Adult Protective Services Social Worker, Door County Department of Social Services

Do you know of a friend or relative age 60 or older who has been hurt or taken advantage of by a family member, caregiver or acquaintance? No one deserves this kind of treatment. And no matter what reason an abuser gives for his or her behavior, there’s no excuse. It’s elder abuse, and it’s wrong.

In Wisconsin, elder abuse is divided into eight categories:

• Physical Abuse: Does your friend or relative get shoved, shaken, hit, kicked or physically hurt in any way?

• Emotional Abuse: Is your friend or relative isolated from family and friends? Is she/he verbally assaulted, threatened or harassed? Is she/he treated like a child or given the silent treatment?

• Sexual Abuse: Is your friend or relative being touched inappropriately or forced to perform or watch sexual acts?

• Financial Exploitation: Is a family member, caregiver, friend or neighbor taking money or possessions belonging to your friend or relative? Is anyone forcing or tricking him/her into signing documents such as Power of Attorney, contracts or a will?

• Neglect: Does a family member or caregiver fail to provide food, water, clothing shelter, personal hygiene, medicine or other life essentials to your friend or relative?

• Self-Neglect: Is your friend or relative unable or unwilling to eat, dress, bathe, take medications or keep his/her home clean and livable? Self-neglect is considered elder abuse because the elder is threatening his/her own health and safety.

• Treatment without Consent: Is your friend or relative being subjected to medication or potentially harmful medical treatments without his/her full understanding and consent?

• Unreasonable Confinement or Restraint: Is your friend or relative being held against his/her will? Is he/she being given overdoses of medication as a means of controlling behavior?

Elder abuse is not a family problem. We all are responsible for helping to ensure that our community is safe and that each of us has the support we need to escape hurtful situations. Even though being abused is never the elder’s fault, he or she may feel ashamed, trapped or all alone. You can help. If you believe that someone you know is being abused, call the Door County Department of Social Services at 920.746.2300 or the Door County Sheriff’s Department at 920.746.2400. Your identity will be kept confidential. In making this call, you will reach a network of professionals with the knowledge and resources to help. No matter how long a person has been abused, it’s never too late to stop the hurt. Remember, elder abuse can happen to anyone and you can take a stand against it. One call really can change everything.

* Information in this article drawn from the Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services, Division of Disability and Elder Services, Bureau of Aging and Long Term Care Resources document PDE-3173

The Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence Team (CCR) is committed to the prevention of domestic violence by coordinating a consistent message and response to domestic violence. It is also dedicated to promoting cooperation, coordination, communication, and education among the criminal justice and other community systems with service providers, thus creating a safe community environment for victims of abuse, ensuring that abusers are held accountable for their behavior and decreasing the tolerance for violence in the community. Printed above is a column from CCR to promote education within the Door County community.