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Elder Abuse Awareness Day: check in on elderly loved ones

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Stevens Point, Wis. (WAOW) -- More than one in ten elders may experience some kind of abuse.

But experts say many of these cases are never reported.

"For every case that is reported, there are between five and ten that aren't," said Barbara Saddison with Portage County Adult Protective Services.

Elder abuse is generally defined as "intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or trusted individual."

It can come in many forms, including abandonment, exploitation, emotional or physical abuse.

"We can get up to three reports a week, and we have to respond within 24 hours," Saddison said.

According to a release from Attorney General Josh Kaul, incidents of elder abuse in Wisconsin have more than tripled from 2001 to 2021.

Saddison said abusers will often work to gain an elder's trust.

"The perpetrators know exactly what to say, they're very trusting. And the older generation, if they're very lonely, they want to believe," she said.

So what can you do to stop abuse from happening?

Experts say know the signs of abuse. These can include bruising, lack of hygiene or changes in behavior.

"Be aware of any kind of cognitive decline, some kind of memory loss," Saddison said.

If you believe you or someone you know are a victim of elder abuse, the number for the statewide hotline is 1-833-586-0107.

Natalie Sopyla

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