GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – More than 100 people wore purple and walked through Columbia on Tuesday, June 15 in honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The walk was hosted by the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
Elder abuse includes not only physical abuse, but emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial exploitation.
According to the National Council on Aging, about one in ten Americans aged 60 and up have been victims of elder abuse. The SCDSS currently has 470 cases open involving the mistreatment of vulnerable adults. But according to Connelly-Ann Ragley, who is the director of communications and external affairs at SC DSS, many cases of abuse and neglect go unreported.
“Just because you are elderly, you are a more seasoned member of society as a friend of mine would say…you still have a voice,” she said. “You still have rights.”
She said signs of neglect or physical abuse include weight loss, poor personal hygiene and injuries like cuts, bruises or broken bones– especially injuries that go unexplained.
Withdrawal from friends and family and signs of anxiety or depression could signify emotional abuse, according to Ragley.
DSS reports financial abuse has been on the rise in populations of vulnerable and elderly people.
“Some of those warning signs or symptoms could be large sums of money that are missing from bank statements that are definitely unusual or out of the ordinary for their month to month and daily living expenses and transactions,” Ragley said. “If the senior citizen has issues or cannot access their financial records, that can be a warning sign that there’s something wrong, or if the elder uses money or gifts for reimbursement in exchange for companionship, that is a concern as well and could be a warning sign.”
If you suspect a senior citizen is being abused, you can report it to DSS 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-888-CARE-4-US. callers can remain anonymous
Non-emergency reports can be made online here.