Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day; Six Prevention Groups Receive Monetary Awards
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 14, 2012) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by reminding citizens to immediately report suspected abuse or neglect.
“Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation is no longer something to be quiet about, and we all have a responsibility to report it,” CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes said. “This agency is committed to partnering with local and national groups to keep our most vulnerable adults safe. We all can be a part of establishing their health and well-being.”
Friday, June 15 marks the seventh 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.
Reporting suspected abuse or neglect is the law, and it’s confidential. The toll-free reporting hotline is (877) KYSAFE1.
Recent research indicates that because as few as one in 24 cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation are reported, it is largely a hidden problem, said Steven Fisher, manager of the Adult Safety Branch, part of the CHFS Department for Community Based Services (DCBS).
Kentucky received 6,953 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of people age 60 and older for state fiscal year 2011.
Fisher said that grassroots campaigns to educate about elder abuse are working.
“More people are talking about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and that means more people will recognize it and not be hesitant about reporting it,” he said.
Reporting suspected elder abuse is the law in Kentucky. Fisher said people who are unsure about a situation should always make the call. Expert staff can ask the right questions to determine whether a report should be investigated.
“Your call may come at the right time to save a life,” he said.
Several advocacy groups working to educate Kentuckians about reporting and prevention have received funding to help their efforts.
The groups and their awards were announced earlier this month at an annual reception to recognize the work of the state’s Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs).
At the event, three LCCEAs received Public Awareness Initiative Awards of $415 for their education efforts. Those recipients are:
- Kentucky River Council against Maltreatment of Elders (Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Perry, Wolfe counties)
- Big Sandy Elder Abuse Council (Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin, Pike counties)
- Russell County Elder Abuse Council
These LCCEAAs will use their awards to continue their awareness efforts.
Three Public Awareness Incentive Awards of $250 each were given to LCCEAs that operate without any funding. Those recipients are:
- Barren River Elder Abuse Council (Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson, Warren counties)
- Tri County Abuse Council for Elders (Knox, Laurel, Whitley counties)
- Central Kentucky’s Team Elder Abuse Council (Anderson, Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln, Mercer counties)
CHFS provides administrative support to the state’s network of 27 Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs) that cover 107 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.
LCCEA membership is free and open to anyone interested in working to prevent elder abuse in their community.
To become involved with your community’s LCCEA or to inquire about events, contact state LCCEA liaison Stacy Carey at (502) 564-7043.
Get more information about the councils and recognizing the signs of elder abuse online at chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/eaa/.
Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse
If you believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or exploited, call (877) KYSAFE1, 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.
- Obvious malnutrition, dehydration
- Dirty and uncombed hair; dirty and torn or climate-inappropriate clothes; or offensive body odor
- Lack of glasses, dentures or hearing aid, or lack of medical care
- Recent suffering or loss of spouse, family members or close friends
- 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
- Experiences pain when touched
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Never leaves the house or allows visitors
- Never mentions family or friends
- 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
- Isolated from family and friends
- Sudden dramatic change in behavior, appearing withdrawn, depressed, hesitant to talk openly
- Caregiver won’t let victim speak for herself or himself
- Caregiver scolds, insults, threatens victim
- Trembling, clinging
- 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 or utilities
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.