PUTNAM COUNTY — Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation continue to be an issue in Putnam County. In my April 2018 article, I referenced the numbers for elder abuse and neglect from 2017. There were 54 cases addressed by Elder Victim Ministry of Crime Victim Services and 16 cases by Putnam County Adult Protective Services. To breakdown Elder Victim Ministry cases, there were 26 victims who experienced a violent crime and 39 victims who experienced a property crime (ID theft, exploitation, etc.). This issue is alive and well in our community.

Since 1990, Crime Victim Services has provided victim services in Putnam County. In July 2015, our office 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. Elder Victim Ministry continues to collaborate with law enforcement, community partners, and community members. Elder Victim Ministry has seen an increase of reported cases.

In 2016, there were 33 cases identified in the Elder Victim Ministry department. From the current number listed above, the office has had a 21 case increase. This increase can also be contributed to the work of the Putnam County Elder Justice Interdisciplinary Team (I-Team). I-Team is a meeting for community partners working for the aging population to assist Adult Protective Services in outreach and awareness, case reporting, and case discussion/solutions.

On June 13, 2018, the Putnam County I-Team will be celebrating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by holding an event at the Putnam County Educational Service Center from 6 - 7:30 p.m. The presentation will be provided by Steve Snyder of the United States Secret Service. He will be speaking on Identity Theft and Current Fraud Trends. The Putnam County Sheriff, Brian Siefker, will speak for a few minutes at the end to highlight local trends. The Putnam County Educational Service Center will end the program with an announcement about a new program to assist seniors online.

Putnam County I-Team is asking you to participate in the presentation. 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. 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.

By learning this information, we hope to increase the number of phone call referrals and office visits. We hope to provide follow-up presentations that will increase awareness of the crime of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. We want Putnam County to know the signs of elder abuse to protect themselves or loved ones. Keep Putnam County elders safe by educating yourself. For more information, call Becca Peckinpaugh, Elder Victim Advocate, Crime Victim Services at 419-523-1111.