World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in WV - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in WV

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It's probably the most under-reported crime in West Virginia

We're talking about elder abuse.

Those trying to stop a growing problem gathered Friday at the Capitol in Charleston to put a spotlight on the issue.

Nona Bennett, 77, of Charleston is one of those. She walks with a cane, but didn't let that stop her from participating in the World Elder Abuse Awareness event.

And while she may use a cane, she's as fit as 50 and has always helped those much older than she.

"Helped to dress them, shower, whatever they needed. I didn't take money for it. I just...I had compassion for them," Nona Bennett said.

Captain Jim Sizemore with the Fayette County Sheriff's office says its an extremely serious problem, citing one case that was especially troubling.

"Elderly lady was brought in to Raleigh General Hospital, suffering from level 4 bed sores, rat and roach bites, had dried excrement caked on her body. She was suffering from malnutrition," said Fayette County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Sizemore.

The woman ultimately died. She was 68.

In 2011, West Virginia's Adult Protective Services received more than 14,000 referrals for help. That's an increase of more than a thousand from the year before.

"They're afraid to come forward, because if they do come forward, they're afraid they'll be put into a nursing home," said Susie Layne, Adult Protective Services Manager with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services.

Layne said a lot of times its family members who abuse them. She says they usually move in and then start siphoning away the money. The abuse also can be physical and mental.

But she says there is help. And that's one message they hope to send out today.

To find out more about how you can help someone you may suspect of elder abuse or to report elder abuse, there is a 24-hour hotline. That number is 1-800-352-6513.

Or you can visit the DHHR website at www.wvdhhr.org.