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Elder Abuse is Everyone’s Business

“As you see yourself, I once saw myself. As you see me now, you will be seen.”

APS client Ozell Boles and APS worker James SimsWhen Ms. Ozell Boles (left) lost her hearing aide set in 2003, she found herself in a bad situation. Little did she know that it would soon get worse.

Without much means or income, she was just about ready to sell her car in order to pay for another set. Then along came a man who made a $250 down payment for her. Boles, who also suffers from poor vision, was thankful for the man’s seemingly kind nature. So when he brought her a document to sign, she was more than willing to comply. “I didn’t really know what I was signing. He explained that I was getting my power of attorney back,” said Boles. It was only later that Boles learned she was actually signing away her house and property.

Then a concerned family member found out about the Texas Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-5400) and made the call that turned the whole situation around. “Thanks to James Sims (right) and Adult Protective Services, I was able to get my place back. As soon as the man got the call about APS, I was surprised how quickly he responded and transferred back the deed. I appreciate James more than you’ll ever know,” said Boles. Sims was also able to get Boles a new hearing aide.

The story of Ms. Boles is typical among the 51,200 confirmed cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving adults living at home in 2006. In the last decade, the number of in-home cases investigated by APS has more than doubled.

May is Elder Abuse Prevention month and Adult Protective Services (APS) is reminding Texans that stopping elder abuse is truly everyone’s responsibility.  This marks the second year of APS’ It’s Everyone’s Business campaign. It’s a statewide effort to educate Texans about the pervasive problem of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly and adults with disabilities, and to encourage citizens to get involved in making a positive difference.

“There is an old Spanish proverb that I think illustrates why everyone has a stake in stopping elder abuse,” said Debra Wanser, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Assistant Commissioner for Adult Protective Services. “As you see yourself, I once saw myself. As you see me now, you will be seen.”

It’s Everyone’s Business features four themes at different times of the year:

  • Adult Abuse Prevention in May;
  • Surviving Summer Heat in June;
  • Home Safety in October; and
  • Financial Exploitation in January.

An Adult Abuse Prevention Kit, containing 31-pages of resources in English and Spanish, is being distributed to hospitals, faith-based organizations, libraries, home health agencies, senior centers, Area Agencies on Aging, and other partners. The kit and other resources are available online at www.everyonesbusiness.org

DFPS is distributing English and Spanish public service announcements to more than 100 television stations across Texas. See them online at:
http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/everyonesbusiness/Overview.asp. The message is simple but important. If you believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or exploited, report it by calling 1-800-252-5400.

Map of DFPS regions

Highlights of Public Awareness Events

Region 1
May 1 – Silver Star Room and new office ribbon cutting ceremony
May 11 & 12 – Silver Star Room drive at United Supermarkets (9 different locations)
May 15 –Radio interview with KRFE in Lubbock
May 16 – TV interview on KCBD TV – Noon Notebook
May 17 – Senior Awareness Expo and Mayor’s Proclamation
Month of May – APS Billboard display in Lubbock on Main Street & Avenue Q

Region 2/9
Abilene – May 10 – Mayoral Proclamation
Abilene – May 17 – APS presentation and APS Honors Awards
Midland – May 10 – Senior Celebration – resource fair
San Angelo – May 10 – “Spring Fling” – senior health fair & APS Honors Awards
Wichita Falls – May 8 – Mayoral Proclamation & TV interview with APS Supervisor
Wichita Falls – May 22 – APS Honors Awards at AAA Caregiver Symposium

Region 3
May 7 – AAA Older American Month Reception in Ft. Worth
May 15 – Tarrant County Proclamation – Commissioners Court in Tarrant County
May 21 – Acceptance of donation for resource room at Green Oaks Inn
May 22 – Reception for Exploitation Conference – Fellowship Bible Church (Dallas)
May 23 – Exploitation Conference – Fellowship Bible Church (Dallas)

Region 4/5
May 2 – Elder Abuse Workshop – Beaumont
May 2 – Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon – Tyler
Presentations are occurring throughout the month at various locations in the region

Region 6
May 24 – Older Americans Conference – Houston

Region 7
May 7 – Meals on Wheels Press conference – Austin
May 11 – Senior Mayfest at housing authority – Austin

Region 8
May 1 – Elder Abuse Proclamation – Bexar County
May 8 – Elder Abuse Proclamation – City of San Antonio

Region 10
May 1 – Proclamation – City of El Paso

Region 11
May 1 – Proclamation – Hidalgo County
May 2 – National Adult Daycare Proclamation
May 4 – Senior Symposium – Corpus Christi

                                                                                                                                                                   
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