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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, June 15, 2010  
Contact Information:  Media Contact: Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6180, ext. 4014; or Vikki Franklin, (502) 564-7042  


FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 15, 2010) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is reminding Kentuckians that even one case of elder abuse is one too many as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15.

“Keeping seniors safe is a priority of this administration, and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day demonstrates that no matter where we live, we can all play a part in protecting our seniors,” CHFS Secretary Janie Miller said.

Tuesday, June 15, marks the fifth annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a time to raise awareness of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation throughout the world.

In Kentucky, advocates of elder abuse prevention have encouraged individuals to wear purple to show their commitment to protecting older citizens and spreading the awareness message.

Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation are largely under-reported and under-recognized throughout the world, said Steven Fisher, manager of the Adult Safety Branch, part of the CHFS Department for Community Based Services (DCBS).

Reporting suspected abuse or neglect is Kentucky law, and it’s confidential. The toll-free reporting hotline is (800) 752-6200.

Fisher said that DCBS received more than 12,000 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of people age 60 and older for state fiscal year 2009.

“We see the numbers, but we also see progress in communities where there are very active, grassroots groups that develop programs and services that speak to their neighbors’ concerns,” Fisher said. “When groups like that work together with larger state agencies and advocacy groups, our message is making a difference.”

CHFS provides administrative support to the state’s network of Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs) that cover 110 counties. LCCEAs provide elder abuse education and outreach at the local and regional levels depending on the needs of the communities. Kentucky’s network involves local law enforcement, county officials, advocates, nursing homes, local businesses, social service agencies and individuals. They share a common goal of ending abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly in their communities by offering specific advocacy, outreach and prevention strategies.

Earlier this month, representatives from the LCCEAAs gathered in Frankfort for a recognition luncheon and information session on elder abuse prevention.

Miller spoke to participants at the conference and encouraged them to continue their work on behalf of seniors.

“Perhaps your greatest accomplishment is that you are changing beliefs, behaviors and attitudes about elder abuse,” she said. “For so many elders and their families, you are making a world of difference.”

At the event, three LCCEAAs received Public Awareness Initiative Awards for their education efforts. They were:
- Kentucky River Council Against Maltreatment of Elders (Lee, Wolfe, Owsley, Breathitt, Knott, Perry, Leslie and Letcher counties): $500
- Big Sandy Elder Abuse Council (Magoffin, Johnson, Martin, Floyd and Pike counties): $300
- Madison County Council on Elder Maltreatment Prevention (Madison): $200

These LCCEAAs will use their awards to continue their awareness efforts.

LCCEA membership is free and open to anyone interested in working to prevent elder abuse in their community.

Several LCCEAAs are planning events in June to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. For more information about these events or to find a local council, log on to http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/eaa/talkAboutIt.htm#local. 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 hotline. If you believe there is imminent risk, immediately call 911 or local law enforcement.
Learn to recognize the following signs of neglect and abuse.
 
Neglect
─ 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 allows 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 or himself
─ 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 chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/eaa/.

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Last Updated 6/15/2010