For Immediate Release - June 18, 2010

Blodgett Calls For Increased Awareness Of Elder Abuse

With scams targeting the elderly making national news, Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett called on communities to pay closer attention to the signs of elder abuse.

While District Attorney Blodgett applauded national coverage of a ponzi scheme that targeted senior citizens and warnings about possible scams related to the Medicare "donut hole" coverage, he suggested that elder abuse needs to receive the same attention. "We must always be vigilant about scams, especially those that target the elderly. In addition, I am urging everyone to be aware of another crime against our seniors, abuse by family or caregivers," Blodgett said.

According to the US Department of Justice, the best available estimates indicate that between 1 and 2 million Americans over age 65 have suffered abuse and that for each reported case, there are about 5 more cases that remain unreported. Victims are often too ashamed or afraid to report the crime or may be reluctant to report a person on whom they depend for their care. For these reasons, Blodgett is encouraging all members of the community to be aware of the signs of elder abuse. "There are many ways in which seniors are abused or neglected. By recognizing potential abuse, we may be able to help someone, whether they are our neighbor, acquaintance, patient, or customer," Blodgett said.

Senior citizens can be abused physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially. Signs of abuse include unexplained bruises, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss, sudden change in financial situation, unexplained withdrawal from normal activities or unusual isolation from friends. Massachusetts General Law (Chapter 19A, Section 18) requires specific people (Council on Aging directors, health care professionals, police and other public safety officials) to report elder abuse. However, anyone who suspects abuse is encouraged to report it to adult protective services by calling the Massachusetts Elder Affairs' 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800-922-2275. All reports are confidential.

"Many services are available to victims to help end the abuse. However, if the abuse is not reported, victims may suffer needlessly," Blodgett said.