To the editor:
Thursday June 15, 2019 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On that day, communities in the USA and all over the world will sponsor events to highlight the growing tragic issue of elder abuse. Regionally, an Elder Abuse Awareness event is being held in Franklin County this year June 18.
Your readers should know that the U.S. Administration on Aging estimates that as many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected. Every year 5 million elders are abused in the U.S. alone. Locally 138 reports of abuse and neglect were made last year and there have been 123 so far this year. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are many ways to make a difference. Check on the older adults in your family or community. Call your county Adult Protective Services (336-599-8361) if you suspect abuse or neglect. Give a caregiver a couple of hours off. Talk to your friends about elder abuse. One person can make a difference. One person can save a life. Be an advocate every day and help protect vulnerable adults. Older adults are contributing members of American society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. America has confronted and addressed the issues of child abuse and domestic violence, but, as a society we have for too long ignored the issue of elder abuse.
Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, and sexual. It also includes people who are neglected and those who neglect themselves (self-neglect). Elders who are abused are twice as likely to be hospitalized, four times as likely to go into nursing homes and three times as likely to die. While most abusers are family members, trusted professionals and complete strangers may also target older adults. Abuse can happen in any setting: in the older adult’s own home, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. Elder abuse can be prevented if everyone would treat older Americans with respect and care. Learning the warning signs of abuse and knowing how to report it is another great step. Person County Senior Center (336-599-7484), Person County Adult Protective Services (336-599-8361 ), the police, and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (252-436-2040) are organizations that you can call on for’ assistance and information. Please urge your readers to get more information on how they can stop elder abuse by visiting the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website https://ncea.acl.gov.
Locally, the senior center is having an Elder Abuse Awareness walk on Friday, June 14. Beginning at 8:30 am, participants will walk from the senior center to Huck Sansbury park, make a lap around the track, and then head back to the center. We will be met by Roxboro Mayor Merilyn Newell, who will make remarks which will be followed by a brief presentation about elder abuse. Participants will receive purple ribbons and water bottles. We invite all to join us either at the senior center or the park.
Editor’s note: The writer is director of the Person County Senior Center.