The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

October 8, 2013

There’s help for seniors being abused

MERCER COUNTY — An elderly woman is dropped off at a senior center in a horrible state – starving and emaciated. Her grandson said she ran out of money and he couldn’t pay the rent. Turns out he spent $86,000 of her money on drugs and other amenities for himself.

“This is not an untypical case for us,” Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems said.

It was just one example Kochems used Monday to illustrate the horrors of elder abuse in the county.

“She said it was OK because he takes care of her,” Kochems said.

Through a state grant, AWARE Inc. of Mercer County was able to team up with the district attorney’s office and the Area Agency on Aging for the past three years to fight elder abuse.

The agencies’ mission is to create awareness with the public, and help seniors in need.

The three agencies were part of a group discussion at St. Paul’s in West Salem Township to respond to concerns people may have about that type of abuse.

AWARE defines elder abuse as the mistreatment of a senior citizen, 60 years or older, by a family member or caregiver resulting in harm or loss to that elder.

It can be physical, sexual, financial, emotional or mental abuse or  neglect.

Kochems noted that most of the time, the elderly being abused may not even realize it, or are afraid to report it.

“Why aren’t they here today? They don’t think it’s happening to them,” Kochems said.

One theme of discussion was that elderly people will not talk about the abuse because of certain “barriers,” such as the threat of being placed in a nursing home.

The agency representatives hoped Monday’s discussion would help elders overcome their fears by realizing that there are people who care about them.

Sam Bellich, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging, said his office investigates every call its gets on physical abuse or neglect of the elderly.

“Within the last five to six years, I’ve seen an escalation in elder abuse,” Bellich said. “I believe it is because more people are coming forward.”

Bellich said anyone can make a report in order to save an elder from physical or mental abuse.

He used the example of a call he received from the neighbor of an elderly, college-educated couple living in a home in a great neighborhood. The house was beautiful on the outside.

Inside, garbage was piled to the ceiling. The room in the best shape was covered with three inches of garbage and human feces, he said.

“If you see a situation that doesn’t look right or feel right in your stomach, it’s worth a phone call,” Bellich said.

An observant neighbor may help Area Agency on Aging provide a life- saving service, he said.

“We need to send out a message that this cannot be tolerated.”

For AWARE, Jackie Landfried, direct services supervisor, and Marty Vansickle, counselor advocate, are the last pieces of the puzzle in helping the abused.

“We’re there to be that emotional support for the elder person,” Landfried said. “We provide counseling and explain the legal system.”

Vansickle said that abusers of victims age 60 and older are usually spouses or family members.

“This is extremely emotional,” Vansickle said. “The abuser may be the only person who comes to visit them.”

Vansickle said she wants those elders to know there are people who will listen and are ready to help.

The grant for this program uniting AWARE, the DA’s office, and the Area Agency on Aging in the fight against elder abuse was awarded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Grove City Area United Way.

Lizette Olsen, executive director of AWARE, said this is the first program on elder abuse in the state that has been approved by the commission for replication in other counties.

The next step is for AWARE to procure further funding for the program, as the grant has almost run its course, she said.

To report elder abuse, call AWARE at 1-888-981-1457 or Mercer County Area on Aging at 724-662-6222.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014

  • Boy ‘was being starved’

    A 7-year-old Greenville boy described as looking like a human skeleton had been starved and beaten by his mother for a year, authorities are saying.

    July 19, 2014

  • Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

    The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

    July 18, 2014

  • GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

    Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

    July 18, 2014

  • Police seek hit-and-run driver who struck boy

    A boy riding a Mongoose bike on Second Avenue in Sharon Thursday evening was struck straight on by a truck whose driver never hit the brakes or looked back, witnesses said.

    July 18, 2014