The Buncombe County Commissioners proclaimed June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month, a time for residents to educate themselves, support the elders in their lives and raise awareness of elder abuse in their communities.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is highlighted on the calendar on June 15 as a reminder to encourage communities to re-evaluate the systems and structures in place to protect seniors.
Elder abuse is a serious issue but is hard to track due to the lack of reporting. The World Health Organization estimates that as few as one in 24 cases of elder abuse is reported. Last year in Buncombe County, Adult Protective Services received 1,794 adult protective services reports alleging elder abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation.
There are a number of factors, including the pandemic that make it challenging for older adults to stay involved with and connected to their communities as they age. Two of the primary factors that contribute to an increased likelihood of abuse include social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease).
It’s important to know the warning signs of elder abuse and to report them to Adult Protective Services. Some indications may include when an individual:
· Stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys
· Looks messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes
· Has trouble sleeping
· Loses weight for no reason
· Becomes withdrawn or acts agitated or violent
· Displays signs of trauma
· Has unexplained bruises, burns, cuts or scars
· Develops bed sores or other preventable conditions
· Has hazardous, unsafe, or unclean living conditions
· Displays signs of insufficient care or unpaid bills despite adequate financial resources
To make an Adult Protective Services report, contact Buncombe County Health and Human Services at 828-250-5800. For more information about Adult and Aging Services, visit www.buncombecounty.org/Governing/Depts/DSS/adults/default.aspx.