Pittsboro, NC – June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day which calls attention to an important issue facing a growing aging population in Chatham County and across the United States. According to the US Department of Justice, ten percent of people 65 and older experience some form of elder abuse each year. In addition to physical, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse, elder abuse also includes neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation.
The past few months have been difficult for everyone, however, seniors in our community face a unique set of challenges. Due to their higher risk of contracting the COVID 19 virus, seniors may be more isolated and avoiding visits with family and friends. This can make many more vulnerable to scams and other forms of financial exploitation reports Renae Minor, Adult Services Supervisor at Chatham County Department of Social Services (DSS).
“Even while we are minimizing in-person contact with seniors, the DSS Adult Services staff are calling weekly to answer questions and address any concerns. We are also sharing information about community resources for meals, supplies, and ways to stay socially connected. In addition, I think it is important to talk about the value in maintaining mental, emotional, and physical health and to encourage self-care even more now during these uncertain and high-risk times,” adds Minor.
Recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness this year looks different than previous years, but the message remains as important as ever. The Department of Social Services organized a #ChathamWearsPurple day and has participated in virtual presentations addressing many topics involving the mistreatment of seniors and vulnerable adults.
The Elder Justice Initiative and National Council on Aging both provide resources about the abuse and exploitation of older Americans. It is estimated that elder abuse costs older Americans between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion annually, according to the National Council on Aging.
To report elder abuse or exploitation, please contact the Chatham County Department of Social Services at 919-642-6988 or after hours to 919-542-2911.