Mar 5, 2014

Guardians needed to help area senior citizens

Image courtesy of worradmu /
Did you know that Athens County’s Adult Protective Services took on 110 new cases last year involving the abuse or neglect of a senior citizen in our community? Abuse and neglect can come in many forms, either at the hands of someone else or from the senior citizen’s inability to care for himself or herself.

Did you know that community members can help prevent abuse and neglect by becoming a volunteer guardian?

Athens County Job and Family Services, the agency that runs the county’s Adult Protective Services, is seeking volunteers who are able to serve as guardians for individuals 60 years of age and older who are no longer capable of making their own decisions.

The process for determining whether an individual is in need of a guardian is led by the county’s court system in consultation with a physician. Once it’s determined the person is incompetent, the court appoints a guardian to help them.

“Many people in the county don’t know that we provide this guardian service for senior citizens,” explained Tabatha McDade, Adult Protective Services coordinator for Athens County. “We have several who have volunteered their time in the past. But right now, we need new volunteers.”

To be a guardian, you must be at least 18 years of age and pass a background check. The court system prefers family members as guardians when possible, but many times there is no family nearby to help. In some cases, a family member is an inappropriate guardian, due to a history of abuse and/or neglect.

Volunteers are needed as soon as possible to assist the senior citizens in our community, McDade added.

The duties of the guardian will vary. In some cases, a guardian will visit with a senior citizen once a month for an outing, like going out to lunch or bowling. Some guardians assist with paying bills, balancing checkbooks, getting medications or simply socializing. The guardians are authorized to sign legal documents for the individuals with whom they work. Depending on the case, the tasks might be more extensive, like appearing in court as needed or helping them transition into a nursing home. Adult Protective Services staff is also there to support the volunteer when necessary.

Want to know more about helping a community member in need? Contact Tabatha McDade at (740) 677-4208.

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