Locals Work To Raise Elder Abuse Awareness

More than 100 seniors and supporters gathered in Prestonsburg Monday to raise awareness of elder abuse, often referred to as the “quiet crime.”

PRESTONSBURG – It’s called the quiet crime, but those who have been the victim of elder abuse or have seen loved ones victimized are being anything but quiet.

A crowd of nearly 100 seniors and young alike gathered at the UK Extension Office in Prestonsburg Monday morning to recognize June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

A host of agencies and representatives spoke on the various aspects of elder abuse, sharing the single message that it is the most overlooked and misunderstood form of abuse in our society.

“We’re just trying to get more awareness to the many ways elder’s suffer abuse,” said Scott Jones, co-director of aging services at the Big Sandy Area Development District.

Most are probably aware of the numerous scams perpetrated against seniors such as telephone and email scams, but representatives Monday explained there are locals in both Floyd and Pike counties who are becoming bolder and more elaborate with their plans.

In Floyd County, officers with the Pikeville Police Department worked in conjunction with the Floyd County Sheriff’s office to round up a group of young men who targeted elder’s by using the identities of local business owners such as wrecker service operator and Floyd resident Bud Wright and Pike County’s Ronnie Robertson.

Officers explained to a shocked crowd Monday how the group of men, now behind bars for the crimes, would simply “go through the phone book and pick somebody who lived close to these guys and knew them.” They would then proceed to tell the seniors they were Wright or Robertson, adding they were out of town and needed a favor.

The favor asked of the seniors was to meet a certain person, who would be a member of the scamming group, at a location in the county and give them a random amount of money such as $100. The scammer, acting as the business owner, would explain this money was owed to the person they were meeting with later.

The targeted seniors would give the strangers money because they knew Wright and Robertson, lived near them, and had been targeted for that exact reason.

This was one of many examples given of elder abuse Monday during the event, ranging from forms including physical, emotional, neglect, abandonment, verbal, and financial, such as with the wrecker service scam.

In Kentucky, for the fiscal year of 2011 alone, there were 17,409 reported cases of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. In more than 80 percent of these cases and others, the perpetrator is a relative.

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