There were nearly 20,000 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of elderly citizens and younger adults with disabilities made to North Carolina's county departments of social services in 2011, according to data released by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
In response to these numbers, Governor Bev Perdue dedicated $2.3 million in her budget to support an innovative Adult Protective Services pilot program in six counties across the state.
She also proclaimed May 11 through June 18 Vulnerable Adult and Elder Abuse Awareness Month - the time period between Mother's Day and Father's Day weekends - and urged all North Carolinians to take extra time and care to check on vulnerable neighbors, friends and family members.
Governor Perdue recognized that the state's current adult protective services program is outdated and ill-equipped to respond to the needs of and threats to seniors and younger adults with disabilities. Current law does not allow for proactive, preventative measures for responding to adults at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation. This leaves a potentially dangerous gap in the supports available to vulnerable adults, including our growing elderly population which is expected to double in the next 20 years.
"We need to be more aware of our neighbors who may be at risk," said DHHS Secretary Al Delia. "If abuse or neglect is suspected, no matter what the age or level of ability, someone should be able to step in and offer assistance. The governor's investment in a system to protect older adults begins to fill a crucial gap in community care."
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Nearly 20,000 Reports of Abuse, Neglect of Elderly and Disabled in 2011