Three community groups have received awards from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to help their efforts to stop elder abuse.
The Public Awareness Initiative awards, including $500 each, went to the Kentucky River Council Against the Maltreatment of Elders, the Northern Kentucky Elder Maltreatment Alliance and the Pulaski County Elder Abuse Council.
Such efforts make a difference for Kentucky’s seniors, said Judge Timothy Feeley, deputy secretary of the cabinet. “Elder abuse and neglect has risen to such a level of concern that these councils have become crucial resources for local education and prevention,” he said. “Through their resourcefulness and collaborations, their projects are teaching respect for elders and saving lives. I commend their community efforts over the past year.”
Kentucky River CAME operates in Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe counties. In the past year, CAME has hosted a Senior Safety and Advocacy Day, sponsored a children’s poster contest and held its second Regional Elder Abuse Awareness Day, drawing about 300 people, dressed in elder abuse prevention T-shirts.
Another popular project was “Blowing Bubbles for Elder Abuse.” On May 4, CAME distributed small bottles of bubbles to elementary schools and senior centers in all eight counties. Students and seniors all blew bubbles to raise awareness of elder abuse prevention and encourage respect for elders.
Northern Kentucky EMA, serving Boone, Campbell, Gallatin, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton counties, presented workshops on insurance fraud and scams, reverse-mortgage myths and helping the rural elderly with utility bills; sponsored its annual children’s poster contest with the theme “Why I Love My Grandparents;” and circulated fliers and training materials about reporting procedures, types of abuse and how to avoid abuse.
In its nomination materials, the Pulaski County Elder Abuse Council called itself “small but mighty.”
About 100 people attended its annual conference last August, which featured speakers on law enforcement, the legal system, hospice care, health care and the state’s adult safety program. The council raised awareness and more than $200 through its Pumpkins on Main decorating project and provided 12 needy seniors with clothes and food at Christmas.
Kentucky received more than 30,000 calls to report abuse, neglect and exploitation of people age 60 and older for state fiscal year 2015. State law requires reporting suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation is the law, and it’s confidential. The toll-free reporting hotline is 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597-2331).
Every county has a similar council. Membership is free and open to anyone interested in working to prevent elder abuse in his or her community. To become involved contact state liaison Stacy Carey at 502-564-7043. Get more information about the councils and recognizing the signs of elder abuse online at chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/eaa/.
Signs of Elder Abuse
If you believe there is imminent risk, immediately call 911 or local law enforcement.
§ 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
§ 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