FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – Gov. Andy Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman and Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Eric Friedlander came together with other state leaders as well as organizations across the state, nation and globe to recognize the 16th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).
At the English Gardens on the State Capitol, Kentucky leaders placed purple flags as a reminder to immediately report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation of older adults. The flags will be on display through June 30.
Launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, WEAAD is a call-to-action for communities to report report abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders and assert their commitment to the principle of justice for all.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, Kentuckians of all ages made sacrifices to protect the most vulnerable, including our elders. We can continue to show our commitment to older Kentuckians by reporting suspected scams, abuse and neglect immediately,” Gov. Beshear said. “Everyone on Team Kentucky deserves to be safe and respected.”
“When we come together, we can prevent elder abuse from happening. We can put support services in place and direct community resources toward addressing elder abuse,” said Secretary Friedlander.
One CHFS agency aimed to help prevent abuse is the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS).
“Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation is not something to be quiet about, and especially since some elders cannot speak for themselves. We all have a responsibility to report it,” said DCBS Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub.
Department for Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Victoria Elridge, co-chair of Kentucky’s State Elder Abuse Committee, said, “With other partners across the state, the statewide Elder Abuse Committee is committed to informing policymakers of changing trends and future needs of elders on a statewide level and to providing recommendations to more effectively meet the needs of an aging population.”
Dr. Keith Knapp, who helps lead Kentucky’s State Elder Abuse Committee with Elridge, shared that advocates of elder abuse prevention have encouraged individuals to wear purple on June 15 to show their commitment to protecting older citizens.
Scott Collins, founder of Elder Law Guidance said it’s important to reach out as soon as possible.
“If you see something that just doesn’t make sense, raise the question. Get some help,” Collins said. “If you don’t know how to raise the question with family, call a professional and we can give you some talking point”
In the state’s fiscal year 2020, the Commonwealth received 23,766 reports alleging abuse, neglect or exploitation of people age 60 and older.
Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state. This means any person who has a reasonable cause to suspect that an adult has suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation is legally obliged to report it to Adult Protective Services.
Reporting is confidential. The toll-free reporting hotline is 1-877-597-2331 or 1-877-KYSAFE1. If there is reason to believe there is imminent risk, immediately call 911 or local law enforcement.
To join elder abuse prevention efforts, Kentuckians can join one of the state’s 24 Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse or LCCEAs. 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 home associations, 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.
This year, councils are planning several activities around World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, including community campaigns through social media, local media and promotional giveaways and training opportunities.
LCCEA membership is free and open to anyone interested in working to prevent elder abuse in their community. To find your community’s LCEAA and become involved, visit here.
Learn the signs of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation here.
You can find local resources to support elder Kentuckians here.