VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The office of Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle has launched its “Make It Your Business” elder abuse campaign.

The campaign focuses on encouraging elder abuse victims and those who suspect someone is a victim of elder abuse to reach out for help.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), elder abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual.  It includes exploitation (misuse of or withholding resources), neglect (failure to provide basic needs or medical attention), and abandonment.  It’s estimated that one in ten adults ages sixty and older have experienced some form of elder abuse, yet only one in fourteen cases are thought to be reported to authorities.

The office launched a public service announcement on social media.

Signs of elder abuse may include bruises, marks, broken bones, bed sores, abrasion, burns, sudden changes in finances, poor hygiene, unexplained weight loss, sleeplessness, unusual depression, unsafe or unclean living conditions, lacking medical aids, and withdrawal from regular activities. 

The perpetrator is often a family member or caregiver. 

The elderly are more susceptible to victimization when they are isolated or suffer from memory loss or communication challenges.

Anyone who suspects or witnesses abuse should call the Virginia Beach Police Department’s Detective Bureau at (757) 385-4101. If the victim is in immediate danger, call 911. 

Elder abuse is a violation of Virginia Law. Abuse or neglect of an incapacitated adult that results in serious bodily injury or disease is a class four felony punishable by up to ten years. Abuse or neglect of an incapacitated adult that results in death is a class three felony, punishable by up to twenty years. In instances where no serious injury or disease results, the perpetrator may be charged with a misdemeanor crime.