Upcoming Forum Reinforces Vital Work to Protect Ohioans



 

Don’t Miss AG’s Elder Abuse Commission Forum: Feb. 23

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — An 84-year-old Army veteran suffering from renal failure entered a Columbus-area skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in July 2021, only to find his placement there jeopardized less than six months later for lack of payment.

A relative of the veteran’s — entrusted with his power of attorney — had been withdrawing money from the patient’s account and refusing to cover the bills for his medical and long-term care.

In late December, the facility reported the alleged misappropriation of funds to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office (AGO).

Sadly, such scenarios are all too common.

“Many people, as they age, put their trust in a family member to handle their finances,” Attorney General Dave Yost noted. “But trusting a family member who ultimately ignores your needs is heart-rending.”

It is also why the attorney general’s Elder Abuse Commission has developed a series of forums to raise awareness and educate older Ohioans, their families, friends and caregivers about how to safeguard this vulnerable population and what to do when wrongdoing is suspected.

The next installment in the commission’s “Protecting Older Ohioans” series called – “Responding to Financial Exploitation, Scams and Fraud in Facility Settings” – will take place virtually on Feb. 23 and be presented in partnership with the Ohio Association of Senior Centers, the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and the Ohio Department of Aging.

The event – featuring guest speaker Lisa Schifferle, senior policy analyst for the Office for Older Americans within the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

“Ending elder abuse is everybody’s responsibility,” said Judith Brachman, chairwoman of the Elder Abuse Commission (EAC). “Whether we are young, old or somewhere in between, we can work together to prevent and stop elder abuse and financial exploitation.”

Vulnerable Ohioans of all backgrounds are affected by elder abuse, which encompasses any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or someone else who causes harm to an older adult or puts an older adult at risk. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or psychological; it also can involve neglect and/or financial exploitation.

The forums and other outreach events represent only part of the EAC’s efforts to prevent and eliminate such maltreatment. The commission also provides resources to front-line practitioners and identifies the services needed to reduce and eliminate elder abuse and victimization, identifies potential legislative and administrative policy responses, and mentors elder justice researchers.

Recently, the commission finalized its first-ever Biennial Report, which details the group’s work in 2020-21.

As the number of older adults continues to rise in Ohio, nationally and globally, the EAC’s role will become only more vital. In the United States right now, there are 56 million older adults – a number that, by 2060, is expected to reach almost 95 million.

“Everybody has a stake in the fight against elder abuse,” AG Yost said. “We aren’t getting any younger, and the job of protecting older adults is not going to get easier. That’s why the EAC exists.”

The commission, founded in 2009, was established in statute – with its membership and duties outlined – in 2018.

For more about the Elder Abuse Commission or to get help for a victim of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, call the Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515.