June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Texas (Adult Protective Services)
June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Texas (Adult Protective Services)

OpEd: June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Texas (Adult Protective Services)

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Texas (Adult Protective Services)

By Grace Ortiz, Adult Protective Services Community Engagement Specialist

During the month of June, Adult Protective Services (APS) collaborates with community advocates across Texas to raise awareness. Last year in Texas, APS investigated 81,769 (3,539 in the El Paso area) people who were living at home and found that 50,934 (2,266 in the El Paso area) of them suffered one or more forms of abuse, neglect or exploitation. 

Self-neglect was at least one factor for most of those people. APS’ job is to investigate these situations and connect people with the services in their communities that they need. APS is here to help and we want to help our seniors have a better life and live with dignity and respect in their homes.

Our elderly population routinely faces several forms of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Consistently educating the public through advocacy and action will provide awareness and prevention of elder abuse.

Elder abuse is defined as intentional and negligent acts by a caregiver or family member that causes harm, distress or serious risk. As people become older and frailer, they are unable to take care of themselves and require trusted caregivers and family members to be responsible for their needs.

For the community to understand and help our senior community, we must understand the different forms of elder abuse. There are several forms of abuse that the elderly face:

  • Physical abuse is when an individual inflicts pain or injury by bodily contact such as scratches, cuts, bruises, burns or even broken bones.
  • Sexual abuse can be defined as non-consensual touching, fondling, intercourse or any other sexual activity.
  • Abuse can also be emotional or psychological. This is seen when individuals verbally assault or harass an elderly person.
  • Neglect is when a caregiver fails to provide survival necessities such as food, clothing, shelter or medical care. They can even fail to provide sanitary living conditions.
  • The elderly are also susceptible to self-neglect in which the elderly individual fails to perform their own self-care tasks.
  • Deprivation happens when caregivers deny medication and medical care.
  • When the caregiver denies the attention the elderly person needs, this is called abandonment.
  • Another common form of elderly abuse is financial exploitation. An elderly person’s finances can be compromised when there is illegal and unauthorized improper use of an older individual’s resources.

It is important to know what forms of abuse are happening whether the caregiver is a professional or family member. Prevention and response strategies are the key to helping the elderly be safe and well. If you witness a suspicious situation of elder abuse, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or report online at the TxAbuseHotline.org.  

I ask that you get involved and play an active role in the life of your elderly family member. Be a “Buddy to a Senior” and ask questions to ensure that their needs are met.  It is the perfect time to check on our elderly family, friends and neighbors.  We need to be the voice for our seniors and advocate for their well-being.  

June 15, 2022 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  We are asking the community to wear purple and support our cause.  We cannot help our senior community without you.  

 

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