VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. (WAVY) – A Virginia Beach Commonwealth Prosecutor’s Office campaign sheds light on elder abuse in our community.
Make It Your Business encourages seniors who are victims or who notice signs of abuse to speak up.
Colin Stolle, the Commonwealth attorney, says it’s a very real problem, not just in Virginia Beach but across the country.
“We see that occasionally in the court system. It rises to the level of it because of a crime. We hear through the channels of various issues that have arisen locally and in various situations where this has happened that it is not being reported, ”he said.
A video posted by his office shows a video of a child showing signs of abuse, which then switches to that of an older woman who is being abused.
According to Stolle, the way people report child abuse should also be the way we report elderly abuse.
“I think people are reluctant to report with seniors. People usually take a step back and say, “It’s none of my business.” That’s what we want to emphasize in the PSA: it’s your business, ”he said. “I think people in a store would notice a bruised child and if they looked disheveled. With that they would want to do something. We want people to do the same with our seniors. “
According to the National Council on Aging, about one in ten people over the age of 60 is a victim of abuse – physical, emotional, or sexual – and they believe only one in 14 cases is reported.
Stolle says those who perpetuate this are either caretakers or family members and that it is important for relatives to speak up because they are the ones who see the signs.
“It is extremely important for other family members to speak up as things have changed over the years. Today so many extended families live together and so many people take care of their parents. They do a great job taking care of the people who raised and cared for them, but that doesn’t mean there are no scenarios where there are no problems and the authorities need to be involved, ”he said.
Stolle says it’s another reason they raise awareness of elder abuse during the holidays because it’s a time when the family comes together, but this year it might be difficult for some to spot problems.
“With COVID and much smaller gatherings this is of course difficult, but that doesn’t mean that if you are concerned you can sometimes tell a difference when you zoom in. You have to think about what’s going on and ask questions, even if it’s not face-to-face but over the phone or zoom, ”he said.
According to Stolle, many cases may not warrant criminal action, but adult protection services can still help.
Signs include bruising, stains, broken bones, pressure ulcers, abrasions, burns, sudden changes in finances, poor hygiene, unexplained weight loss, insomnia, unusual depression, unsafe or unclean living conditions, lack of medical supplies, and withdrawal from regular activities.
“We’re just trying to get people to understand that it’s okay to pick up the phone. It is okay to report this as our seniors are vulnerable and we have to do everything we can to make sure they are protected, ”said Stolle.
If you are a victim or know someone who is a victim of elder abuse in Virginia Beach you can call (757) 385-4101.