After more than 45 years as an aging professional, Kathy Ray-Smith, regional ombudsman director for Care Connection for Aging Services, is passionate about providing information about elder abuse, so Care Connection is participating in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Saturday, June 15, by providing information this month.

“This is a topic people sometimes are uncomfortable confronting,” Ray-Smith said. “However, as advocates for the elderly, we must face the issue head-on and educate people ranging from the general public to professionals in the financial business to first responders.”

One in 10 adults older than 60 has experienced some sort of abuse or harm, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Elder abuse takes many forms: bullying, physical or emotional harm, financial exploitation or sexual abuse.

“When elders are abused, they sometimes retreat from participating in their communities,” Ray-Smith said. “This social isolation can lead a person to be even more vulnerable to abuse and also can put the person at risk of poor emotional and physical health. These are problems that affect all of society. Many times, an elder will not report abuse because of fear of retaliation or embarrassment.”

Ray-Smith calls on all people from bankers and grocery clerks to paramedics, nursing home professionals and relatives to watch out for signs of else abuse, including unusual changes in behavior or sleep, fear or anxiety, isolation from friends and family, withdrawal from normal activities, sadness, broken bones, bruises and welts, cuts, sores or burns, torn, stained or bloody underclothing, sexually transmitted diseases without clear explanation, dirtiness, poor nutrition or dehydration, unusual weight loss or dehydration, missing daily living aids like glasses, walker or medications, unusual changes in a bank account or money management services, unusual or quick changes in a will or other financial documents, fake signatures on financial documents or unpaid bills.

If you suspect you or someone else has been the victim of elder abuse, call Ray-Smith at (800) 748-7826 or the Missouri Adult Abuse hotline at (800) 392-0210. To learn more about elder abuse and neglect, call or visit Korth or El Dorado Springs Senior Center.

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