Center hosts event targeting elder abuse
It is often the weakest among us who needs the most protection. Such is the case when it comes to elder
Sunday is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and in an effort to raise awareness, First Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability has partnered with the Northeast Tennessee Vulnerable Adult Coalition to host educational seminars throughout Northeast Tennessee.
On Friday, a special presentation on elder abuse was given at the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center with representatives from Adult Protective Services, the Health Department and the Change Is Possible – or CHIPS – Family Violence Shelter on hand to answer questions.
“Sadly there is a lot of elder abuse, and there are a lot of forms of abuse,” said Kathy Dula, director of the Senior Citizens Center. “You may not need this information, but you may know someone who does, and at some point you yourself may need it.”
According to information provided by FTAAAD and NET-VAC, more than 14,000 reports of adult abuse, neglect or financial exploitation were made to the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Adult Protective Services division in 2013. Approximately 938 reports of such incidents were made to the APS unit for the eight counties of Upper East Tennessee.
On Friday a video was shown describing the types of elder abuse.
• Physical Abuse — inflicting physical pain or injury, such as slapping or bruising; or restraining a person by physical means or by chemical means through over-medication;
• Sexual Abuse — non-consensual sexual contact of any kind;
• Neglect — the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder;
• Exploitation — the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit;
• Emotional Abuse — inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening; and
• Abandonment — desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
There are also cases that are classified as “self neglect,” where an elderly person cannot care for his or her own needs due to a physical or mental impairment.
After the video, Dula once again spoke. “There is help. You can always call the Senior Center if you need help or information,” she said. “We are here to help you.”
Dula said one aspect of elder abuse that also concerns her is the financial exploitation of elderly persons.
“No one thinks about that, but there is a lot of financial abuse that goes on,” she said.
Rebecca Brookshire, who works with APS, said if anyone suspects elder abuse, neglect or exploitation is occurring they should call the APS toll-free number at 888-277-8366. All calls are kept confidential.