Dane County officials focus more money and attention on elderly - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Dane County officials focus more money and attention on elderly abuse

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MIDDLETON (WKOW)-- Most people could never imagine harming the people that they love, but social workers say elderly abuse is becoming a major issue nationwide. Last year more than two million seniors were abused in America. The reason this issue is so concerning to experts is because more often than not the crime is being committed by a loved one.

"We've heard stories of, but I thought they loved me. Well, we tell them, they love you, but unfortunately they also abused your relationship," Dane County Adult Protective Services Supervisor Shari Gray-Dorn says.
This devastating betrayal of trust often causes seniors to go into denial. Experts say they often have a hard time believing that someone they have grown to trust could ever abuse them physically, emotionally or financially.

"You wonder how could people do this to people that they supposedly care for," South Madison Coalition of the Elderly Executive Director Marcia Hendrickson says. "It's such a tough issue to deal with. There are a lot of emotions involved."

Studies show more than 91% of elderly abuse cases happen within the home and 61% are committed by trusted family members. These two factors have lead to a 1 in 14 reporting rate. A vast majority of elderly abuse cases are overlooked because seniors are afraid to ask for help.

"To admit that their loved one has been taking advantage of them, it's a very difficult thing to do," Gray-Dorn says.

In Dane County, officials responded to 487 cases in 2013. That number is 7% higher than it was only a year ago. To raise awareness of this issue, Dane County officials held a special event at the Middleton Senior Center on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

"In the 2014 budget we added another senior benefit specialist. We have a total of 37 case managers at our 15 senior focal points across the county," Dane County Executive Joe Parisi says.

The Middleton Senior Center is one of those 15 locations in Dane County where resources are available to anyone who has experienced elderly abuse. Trained professionals are ready and willing to help seniors through a variety of issues. They've even started a helpline which can be reached at (608)-261-9933.

"We must work together to bring an end to abuse of our elderly," Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney says. "They are one of the most vulnerable and cherished population groups in our society."

For more information on elderly abuse and how to get help, visit these websites:

Dane County Human Services

How to Reporter Elder Abuse

AARP Article on Elderly Abuse

Administration on Aging


MIDDLETON (WKOW)-- Last year in Dane County 487 senior citizens reported being abused physically, emotionally, sexually or financially. The issue is a major concern for county officials who are working to raise awareness of this very real problem in our area. Nationwide more than two million elderly individuals are abused.

The Dane County Sheriff's Office and the Dane County Executive are working with local advocates to tackle this concerning issue. They're concerned because a vast majority of these cases go unreported. Their message to the community is that help is there for anyone who needs it.

Tonight on 27 News at 6:00 p.m. Gordon Severson explains why the issue is so concerning and shows us what officials are doing to prevent it.
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