Thursday, June 4, 2009

Georgia DHR observes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15

The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) Division of Aging Services (DAS) encourages Georgians to wear purple on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. People worldwide will be wearing purple to show that elder abuse is a global problem. The annual observation recognizes, honors and raises awareness of disabled adults and persons 65 and older who suffer in silence because of abuse, neglect or exploitation. DHR considers elder abuse to be both a public health threat and a human rights issue, and seeks to increase awareness around the issue.

“On this day, we want to take a moment to recognize the abuse our most vulnerable and at-risk adult population sometimes experiences,” said Maria Greene, director of the Division of Aging Services (DAS). “Elder abuse is a crime in Georgia and often goes unreported. Therefore, we encourage everyone to know the signs of abuse and call Adult Protective Service if they become concerned.”

Georgia law defines elder abuse as the willful infliction of physical pain, physical injury, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement or willful deprivation of essential services. Studies have shown that for every one case of elder abuse reported, there are an estimated 14 incidences that go undetected. Abuse takes many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial exploitation, neglect and self-neglect. Adult children are most often the perpetrators of abuse in all its forms. Spousal abuse can start early and continue into later life. Any older person can be abused regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity or geographic location.

Mandated reporters of elder abuse in Georgia includes physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists, clergy (in long-term care settings), psychologists, managers, administrators, dentists, optometrists, coroners, pharmacists, orderlies, nurses, nurse’s aides, medical examiners, chiropractors, social workers, police officers and law enforcement personnel, physical therapists, employees of financial institutions, licensed professional counselors and adult day care personnel.

Make the call if you believe that an elder is being abused, neglected or exploited. If the person lives in his or her own home or with a relative, call Adult Protective Services (APS) to make a report at (404) 657-5250 (inside Metro Atlanta) or toll-free at (888) 774-0152. If the person lives in a nursing home or personal care home, contact the Office of Regulatory Services (ORS) at (404) 657-5726 (inside Metro Atlanta) or toll-free at (800) 878-6442. You may also contact the State Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, an advocate for residents’ rights, at (888) 454-LTCO (5826).

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