Sunday, June 12, 2016

Spotting elder abuse topic of public forum in Anniston

New Calhoun Co. DHR director Sam Smith.
It can sometimes be hard to tell when the elderly are in danger from abuse or neglect, and harder still to know when to report those dangers, according to the director of Calhoun County’s Department of Human Resources.

Sam Smith, who leads the county's DHR office, which is responsible for investigating potential abuse cases, said Tuesday that to help educate the public on how to spot and report those dangers a public forum on elder abuse is to take place June 16 from 2-4 p.m. at the Calhoun County Department of Human Resources office at 415 W. 11th St. in Anniston.

“Not everybody knows that it even needs to be reported, when someone is living alone and they have no electricity, or maybe they're being exploited financially,” Smith said.

Calhoun County DHR is on track to investigate about the same number of reports of possible adult abuse, neglect or exploitation from last year to this year, according to the agency’s records.

Of the 334 investigations into potential elder abuse, neglect or exploitation last year by Calhoun County DHR 111 were deemed actual cases of abuse or neglect, according to the agency. Through April of this year the agency has investigated 38 actual elder abuse cases, just slightly more than during the same time period last year.

Statewide during the fiscal year 2015, workers investigated  8,078 reports of adult abuse, neglect or exploitation, according to Barry Spear, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources. So far this fiscal year the state agency is on track to investigate fewer such reports.

Smith said among the factors that contribute to elder abuse and neglect, poverty plays a large role, as does the continued fragmentation of modern society. Social workers often find older residents living without electricity or running water, or being exploited by those who are supposed to care for them, he said.

Years ago, Smith said, grandparents would move in with their families when it became difficult or dangerous for them to live alone, but that's happening less today, leaving those elderly to fend for themselves. Financial exploitation of elderly is a growing problem as well, Smith said, and it’s often committed not just by family members of the elderly, but by people from outside the home who may see them as vulnerable.

Smith said he hopes the public comes to the forum June 16 to learn how better to protect some of the most vulnerable among us.

"It's really sad to see them in what's supposed to be their golden years struggling that way," Smith said.

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Spotting elder abuse topic of public forum in Anniston

1 comment:

Jesse said...

I appreciate your work and at the same time, I'm concerned that about 1/3 of the reported complaints are verified and wonder how many guardianship these complaints cause.