Elder abuse focus is today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It happens every day – older Americans are abused, neglected and exploited, officials said.

Today, people from around the country will observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

“Because the elderly don’t always receive the care and attention that they need, they are primary targets for abuse, neglect and exploitation,” said Cathy Leverington, director of the county’s department of human resources. “Sadly, in many cases, the victims’ own children are the perpetrators, which can make investigating the reports an arduous task.”

In fact, elders lose an estimated $2.6 billion annually due to financial abuse, said Leve-rington. The funds taken from them are money they could have used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food and medical care, she said.

Additionally, elder abuse is estimated to cost Americans $60 to $90 billion annually in health care, social services and investigative and legal costs.

“No matter how difficult the challenge, with the help of our community partners, our adult protective services workers investigate reports and arrange protection, because of their commitment to ensuring the safety and well being of the elderly,” Leverington said.

No one is immune to abuse, she said.

It occurs in every demographic group and can happen to anyone.

Statewide, DHR, investigated approximately 5,312 adult protective service referrals.

Levingerton said about half of the reports were for people at least 60 years and in fact, most of them range from 75 to 84 years old.

Today, along with every other day, Leverington urges locals to help in the fight to stop elderly abuse.

“Please help us protect our vulnerable elderly citizens who have contributed so much to our community,” she said.

To report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation, call DHR at 427-7900.

Reports can also be made toll free at 1-800-458-7214 or by email at aps@dhr.alabama.gov.

All reports are confidential and may be made anonymously, Leverington said.

“Your call may make a real difference in the life of one of your neighbors,” she said.