With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day approaching, a presentation will be held in Putnam County tonight to raise awareness.

The Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services are encouraging all Ohioans to learn the warning signs of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and know how to report it if they suspect that an older loved one or neighbor might be a target. Friday is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

“This issue is alive and well in our community,” said Becca Peckinpaugh, Crime Victim Services, in a press release.

Her organization assists crime victims in Putnam County and in July 2015 started the Elder Victim Ministry program to assist in shining a light on the issue of elder abuse and neglect and crimes against the elderly. This ministry has seen an increase in reported cases.

“From 2015 to 2040, Ohio’s overall population is expected to grow by just 2 percent, while our 60-plus population will grow by 40 percent,” said Beverley Laubert, interim director of the Ohio Department of Aging, in a press release. “While we work every day to empower elders to remain independent and vital, we also know that they are often the targets of abuse. We are committed to empowering individuals, families and communities so that no elder is victimized again.”

Elder abuse can include neglect (of medical care, adequate nutrition or socialization); exploitation or using another’s resources for monetary or personal benefit; and physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Warning signs can include bruises, cuts or other signs of physical harm; sudden behavioral changes, such as becoming less social; a caregiver who refuses to allow visitors to see the adult alone; hazardous or unsanitary living conditions; dehydration, malnutrition or poor personal hygiene; previously uninvolved relatives showing sudden interest in the adult’s rights, affairs and possessions; unexplained, sudden transfers of assets or finances to an individual; unexplained disappearances of funds or valuable possessions; abrupt changes in a will, financial documents, bank accounts or banking practice; and over- or under-utilization of prescribed medications or missing medications.

The Putnam County Elder Justice Interdisciplinary Team will mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day with an event from 6-7:30 p.m. today at the Putnam County Educational Service Center.

Steve Snyder of the United States Secret Service will speak on identity theft and current fraud trends. Putnam County Sheriff Brian Siefker will highlight local trends, and the Putnam County Educational Service Center will announce a new program to assist seniors online.

“Come as a senior citizen to learn how to protect yourself. Come as a family member, friend or neighbor to protect a loved one. Come as a church member to pass on the information to your congregation,” Peckinpaugh wrote. “As a team, we can provide awareness, but the change starts with you. Without referrals, without speaking up, our offices would not know the issue existed. We want to protect the elderly in Putnam County and say NO to elder abuse.”

Crime Victim Services can be reached at 419-523-1111.

If you feel that someone is in immediate danger of harm, call local law enforcement immediately.

Suspected abuse can also be reported to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ Adult Protective Services program at 855-644-6277 (855-OHIO-APS). To report suspected abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility or by staff of a home care agency, call the State Long-term Care Ombudsman’s Office at 800-282-1206.

More information is at www.aging.ohio.gov/elderabuse.

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