Shelby County DHR’s effort to prevent elder abuse

By Brady Talbert / Staff Writer

ALABASTER  Each year over 500,000 reports of elder abuse are sent into the Department of Human Resources, and for every case it is estimated that five cases go unreported. Three hundred ninety-nine of those reports were received in the Shelby County area this past year, which is why the Shelby County DHR Adult Protective Services Unit is making an effort to bring awareness to this issue.

On Friday, June 15 Shelby County officials, local DHR representatives and community elders met at the Alabaster Senior Center for the second annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day proclaimed by Mayor Marty Handlon of Alabaster, Mayor Gary Waters of Pelham and Mayor Don Greene of Harpersville.

Star Pope, the Shelby County DHR representative that spoke Friday, said that “awareness really is the key.” Her speech discussed the diverse types of abuse the elderly face; physical, emotional, sexual, neglect and abonnement being the most common. She said passive neglect, or unintentionally neglecting a person by not providing “life’s necessities,” is a form of abuse and that people can report these types of behavior confidentially to DHR.

Handlon said this year’s event in Alabaster was “good for our seniors,” as elders may not have been able to attend due to transportation issues if it were elsewhere. Handlon expressed that “education and awareness let people know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable” and that the gathering allowed seniors to see the benefits of contacting police or DHR, not being reluctant if they are in an abusive situation.

Waters said that awareness on this topic is “something that all of us need to be concerned with.” Waters believes his history as a paramedic plays into his belief of spreading awareness.

“I have actually seen in the field what happens when the elderly are abused,” Waters said, adding as Pelham’s mayor he is “elated” that the event will be in the city next year, giving Pelham the “opportunity to state clearly how we think about it.”

The gathering concluded by giving Francis Perkins the 2018 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Citizen Award, after her “lifelong” service to the Harpersville community. Perkins said she was “honored,” it was a “blessing,” and that she was almost “without words today.”

Next year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will be held in Pelham. To contact the Shelby County Department of Human Resources, call (205) 669-3000.