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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Elder Abuse Prevention Efforts Honored at Capitol Rally

Press Release Date:  Friday, May 15, 2009  
Contact Information:  Media Contact: Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6180, ext. 4014; or Vikki Franklin, (502) 564-7042  

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 15, 2009) – Several individuals and programs were honored today at a Capitol rally to spotlight elder abuse prevention.

“Elder abuse affects us all, and if we want to ensure that our senior citizens are healthy and safe, we must give them the dignity, respect and protection they deserve,” said Janie Miller, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), the primary state agency responsible for adult protective services.

The rally was part of Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

Miller said many Kentuckians aren’t aware that reporting suspected abuse or neglect is the law.

“Taking that step may seem bold, but it’s important to act on behalf of these people who might not be able to speak for themselves,” Miller said. “It’s confidential, and it could save someone’s life.”

The toll-free reporting hot line is (800) 752-6200.

Miller also announced that a 15-second Kentucky-produced informational piece would run as a movie trailer on national screens beginning Friday, May 22.

“For the first time, a single, consistent message about the problem of elder abuse will be seen and heard throughout the country, and Kentucky is at the forefront.”

About 2.8 million Americans will see the informational piece, which features Louisville native and “Lost” actor William Mapother.

Also at the rally, awards were given to groups and individuals who exemplified their commitment to protecting seniors.

Sandra Halter, an adult protective services (APS) worker in Graves County, received the Outstanding APS Award.

Jerry Jones, a detective with the Kentucky State Police Post 1 in Mayfield, received the Outstanding Law Enforcement Award.

David Hargrove, commonwealth’s attorney in Graves County, won the Outstanding Prosecutor Award.

Kay Gunderson, a volunteer long-term care ombudsman for residents at Golden Living-Hill Creek Nursing Home in Louisville, received the Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Dr. Wilson Wong, who is retired, received the Visionary Leadership Award for Elder Abuse Awareness.

Wong, a consultant with the University of Kentucky, was recognized for his many years of service and commitment to increasing the public's understanding and awareness of elder abuse. His work on elder abuse has served to inform public policy and inspire his colleagues.

Wong, a Donovan Scholar at the University of Kentucky, won the 2006 Rhoda L. Jennings Older Advocate Award at the Annual Southern Gerontological Society Conference. The award recognized his effective advocacy for older adults and for innovative contributions to society after age 65. 

The Pennyrile Elder Abuse Council, one of the state’s 32 Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs), received the annual Public Awareness Initiative Award for exemplary public outreach efforts toward the prevention of elder abuse in their nine-county Western Kentucky area.

Leaders of all of the state’s LCCEAs were also recognized for their work. LCCEAs cover 116 counties and provide elder abuse education and outreach at the local and regional levels, depending on the needs of the communities. Kentucky has the nation’s only network of such councils, which involve advocates from CHFS, law enforcement, volunteer agencies, businesses and all areas of the community.

To become involved with your community’s LCCEA, contact state LCCEA coordinator Stacy Carey at (502) 564-7043.

Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse

If you believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or exploited, call (800) 752-6200, the state’s abuse hot line. If you believe there is imminent risk, call 911 or local law enforcement immediately.

Learn to recognize the following signs of neglect and abuse.
─ Obvious malnutrition, dehydration
─ Dirty and uncombed hair, dirty and torn or climate inappropriate clothes, offensive body odor
─ Hoarding
─ Lack of glasses, dentures or hearing aid or lack of medical care
─ Bedsores
─ Recent suffering or loss of spouse, family members or close friends
Physical Abuse
─ Frequent injuries such as bruises, burns, broken bones; explanation of the injury seems unrealistic
─ Multiple bruises in various stages of healing, particularly bruises on inner arms or thighs
─ Pain on being touched
─ Loss of bowel and bladder control
─ Never leaves the house; never allowed visitors
─ Never mentions family or friends
Sexual Abuse
─ Evidence of sexually transmitted disease
─ Irritation or injuries to the mouth, genitals or anus
─ Upset when changed or bathed
─ Fearful of a particular person
─ Loss of bowel and bladder control
Emotional/Psychological Abuse

─ Isolated from family and friends
─ Sudden dramatic change in behavior: appears withdrawn, depressed, hesitant to talk openly
─ Caregiver won’t let victim speak for herself
─ Caregiver scolds, insults, threatens victim
─ Trembling, clinging
Financial Abuse
─ Unusual activity in bank account; sudden large withdrawals, expenditures that are not consistent with past financial history
─ Use of automated teller machines (ATM) when the person has no history of using ATMs or cannot walk
─ A recent will, when the person seems incapable of writing a will
─ Rights signed away on legal papers without understanding what the papers mean
─ Unpaid bills, such as house payment, rent, taxes, utilities

Get more information about recognizing the signs of elder abuse online at

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Last Updated 5/15/2009