Public officials urged people to speak up and report suspected elder abuse and exploitation during the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event on June 15.
Colorado Adult Protective Services (APS) received nearly 11,000 reports of suspected elder abuse, neglect and exploitation in 2011. Yet, it estimates only one in 10 incidents of at-risk adults and seniors being harmed are reported.
“Adult Protective Services receives calls from people everyday who are concerned about someone they know, yet many incidents go unreported. It’s just as important to protect our kids, as it is to protect our seniors. I urge you to look out for one another and call Adult Protection if you’re worried about the safety and well-being of a neighbor, loved one or friend,” Penny May, manager of Denver Human Services said.
Sen. Evie Hudak and Rep. Sue Schafer discussed Senate Bill 78, which Gov. Hickenlooper recently signed into law.
“Elder abuse is a statewide issue. This legislation will combat the mistreatment of elderly populations by establishing the Elder Abuse Task Force,” said Sen. Hudak. Over the next year, the Elder Abuse Taskforce will convene and make recommendations for creating a system for mandated reporting of at-risk adults in Colorado. Currently, Colorado is one of four states throughout the nation that does not have an elder abuse mandated reporting law in place.
Making sure seniors are protected and cared for is critical to the strength of the Denver community.
Denver DA Mitch Morrissey talked about helping a woman whose family members were financially preying on her. His office was able to help by connecting her to housing and support services. He went on to say that his office sees a lot of elders that are financially exploited by family members that have drug and gambling addictions. “We also receive many calls from postal workers on their routes who are concerned about seniors becoming isolated,” he said.
While the event shined a spotlight on a serious, but important matter, the Raging Grannies performed light-hearted songs. Additionally, attendees were connected with aging information from various community service providers and enjoyed a complimentary lunch.
To spot abuse, neglect or exploitation, keep in mind the acronym Speak Up, which stands for:
Sudden changes in behavior, finances or lifestyle
Physical injuries, dehydration or malnourishment
Extreme withdrawal, depression or anxiety
Absence of basic care or necessities
Kept away from others
Unsanitary living conditions
Personal items or missing money
To report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation among at-risk adults over the age of 18, please call the Denver County APS hotline at 720-944-2994. If you live in another county, please call your local county APS hotline.
The It’s Okay to Speak Up event was supported by Senior Source at 9 News, the City and County of Denver, Denver Health, Juniper Village at The Spearly Center, VITAS, 50 Plus Marketplace News, Prime Time for Seniors Newspaper, Denver District Attorney’s Office, and several other local businesses and organizations.