June 15 is elder abuse awareness day

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, May 27, 2014

By KIM MASHEGO / Guest Columnist

Thousands of elderly citizens are abused, neglected, and exploited in Alabama each year. To help raise awareness, communities and professionals across the nation and across the world unite annually on June 15 to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Activities in Shelby County include a town hall meeting presented by the Interagency Council for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. The Town Hall Meeting will be held on June 10 at the Alabaster Senior Center located at 109 Seventh St. S.W. from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. One simple thing everyone can do on June 15 to raise awareness of elder abuse is wear purple. Purple is the color nationally recognized to represent elder abuse awareness.

Governor Robert Bentley has proclaimed June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Because the elderly are often dependent on others for their care and may become isolated, they are primary targets for abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Sadly, victims are most often abused, neglected and exploited by individuals who are known and trusted by the elderly person. No matter how difficult the challenge, with the help of our community partners, our Adult Protective Services workers investigate reports and arrange protection. They are strongly committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the elderly.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources is responsible for the investigation of adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation. DHR also partners with over 30 agencies as members of the Alabama Council for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, which works to raise awareness of elder abuse prevention. The Council worked to secure passage of the Protecting Alabama’s Elders Act in 2013. This law is relating to creating the crimes of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of persons age 60 and older.

In FY 2013, the Alabama Department of Human Resources investigated over 6,000 reports of suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults statewide, which included elderly persons.

Elder abuse is gravely under-reported. Please help us protect our vulnerable citizens who have contributed so much to our community. If you suspect mistreatment of an elderly person or an adult person who has disabilities, please call Shelby County DHR at 669-3006. You can make a real difference in the life of a vulnerable adult by recognizing signs of maltreatment and taking action by reporting abuse.

Reports may also be made toll free to the Adult Abuse Hotline 1-800-458-7214 or by email to aps@dhr.alabama.gov. All reports are confidential and may be made anonymously.

Kim Mashego is the director of the Shelby County Department of Human Resources.