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Pennsylvania Confronts Rising Incidents Of Elder Abuse

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May is Older Americans Month and elderly abuse has increased by ten percent in Pennsylvania, which claims the fourth highest percentage of citizens, age 60 or older, in the country. PA Director of Protective Services Denise Getgen attributes this increase to the rising acknowledgement of the abuse occurring.

“There is more of a public awareness,” said Getgen. “I think we’re doing more outreach and education than we have ever done with the public.”

The most reported form of abuse is neglect. This is followed by financial exploitation exploitation which is often committed by a family member.  This makes tackling the issue more difficult says Pennsylvania Department of Aging director of communication Kirstin Snow.  

“Often older adults don’t want to report a family member as the person who is the perpetrator of the crime.”

The fading stigma towards elderly abuse is also contributing to the rise of reports. People are less embarrassed, standing up for themselves and reporting the abuse.

Work is still being done to eradicate elder abuse. The Department of Aging is constructing its state plan for 2016-2020 and is turning to the community for feedback says Snow.

“We’ve had people that we serve, people who are our stakeholders, people who are partners in the community, and certainly senior citizens in the community have come out, and they’ve shared with us what they think we are doing well and what they think we could be doing better.”

The hearings for the upcoming state plan begin May 18 in Allegheny County.

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