In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Friday, June 15, the Kentucky Adult Protective Services (APS) Branch asks all Kentuckians to help guard against elder abuse. APS, within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), is the state agency responsible for investigating and providing protective services to victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
APS provides administrative support for the state’s network of 22 Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs), which covers 92 of the state’s 120 counties. The councils provide focused education and outreach to their communities to protect the elder population from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
“The work of these councils shows that we can all be a part of establishing well-being for the older members of our communities,” said APS Branch Manager Steve Fisher. “Through partnership with our local offices and other agencies, the LCEEAs are making elder abuse prevention a priority across their multi-county areas. We thank them for their programming which has helped save lives.”
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.
At a recent conference focusing on elder abuse prevention, APS recognized three LCCEAs for their work to stop elder abuse: Madison County Council for Elder Maltreatment Prevention, Kentucky River Council Against Maltreatment of Elders (CAME) and Big Sandy Elder Abuse Council. Each organization received Public Awareness Initiative awards of $400 for showing a commitment to elder abuse prevention through public outreach during the past 12 months.
The Madison council represents Madison County. CAME is in Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe counties. The Big Sandy council operates in Floyd, Johnson, Martin, Magoffin and Pike counties
Kentucky received more than 28,000 calls to report abuse, neglect and exploitation of people age 60 and older during state fiscal year 2017. If you believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or exploited, call 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597- 2331), the state’s abuse hotline. If you believe the individual is at 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 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
· 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
Purple is the awareness color for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Everyone is encouraged to wear purple clothing or a purple ribbon on Friday and start conversations about prevention.
Reporting suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation is the law in Kentucky. It is confidential. The toll-free reporting hotline is 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597-2331). Get more information about LCCEAs and recognizing the signs of elder abuse online at https://chfs.ky.gov/.