Agencies, politicians target elder abuse

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Elder abuse. There are an estimated 6,100 incidents of elder abuse and neglect each year in the Mahoning Valley.

It’s an issue that’s been raised by the court appearance of Richard Johnson on Tuesday. He was a maintenance worker at a local assisted care facility, charged with gross sexual imposition.

John Saulitis is an ombudsman with the Area Agency on Aging. He says most employees of nursing homes and similar facilities are good, hard-working people.

Saulitis says communication is key to make sure your loved ones are getting proper care. But, in cases where talking is difficult, there are other things to look for. “Sometimes non-verbal communication changes in a person’s demeanor or behaviors if something’s going wrong”, says Saulitis.

Another concern for the Area Agency on Aging is the lax laws in Ohio for assisted living facilities. State Senator Capri Cafaro is drafting a bill that would hold those facilities more accountable. “Assisted living facilities under Ohio Revised Codes aren’t nearly held to the same standards of accountability or punitive damages as any sort of nursing homes. We want to make sure the law protects the residents in those assisted living facilities.”

Cafaro says her goal is NOT to put the facilities out of business, but to make sure elderly people are properly cared for. She says a bill will most likely be presented to lawmakers this fall.

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