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Preventing Elder Abuse is 'Everyone's Business'

May 2010 Proclaimed Elder Abuse Prevention Month

Every year, an increasing number of elderly people are being abused, neglected, or exploited. Instead of enjoying what is supposed to be their "golden years," many are isolated and are afraid to call for help.

Most are victims of self-neglect, suffering in silence and weighed down by physical, medical, emotional, and financial stresses. Of those being abused by others, sadly, the most common abusers are those closest to them. As a result, many are afraid to contact the authorities because they don't want their children to be arrested.

Governor Rick Perry has proclaimed May 2010 as Elder Abuse Prevention Month in Texas and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services wants to take this opportunity to remind all Texans that preventing elder abuse is everyone's business.

"Elder abuse touches all racial, cultural, religious and socioeconomic groups," says the Governor in the proclamation. "At this time, I encourage all Texans to begin at home--ensuring that we are taking the very best care of the seniors in our lives, reaching out to the elderly in communities across Texas and, again, reporting any suspicion of senior abuse to the proper authorities."

This marks the fifth year of Adult Protective Services' (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 and community groups to get involved in making a positive difference. Throughout May, staff across the state will distribute information  and participate in conferences, information fairs, and ceremonies honoring those who work on behalf of vulnerable adults.

No one knows exactly how many older Texans are being abused, neglected, or financially exploited. But in Fiscal Year 2009, Adult Protective Services confirmed elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation in 50,936 cases. Of those, 42,551 involved self neglect.

What can you do to prevent elder abuse? Talk with your older friends, neighbors, and relatives. Maintaining communication will help decrease isolation, a risk factor for abuse. It will also give them a chance to talk about any problems they may be experiencing.

Also, be aware of the possibility of abuse. Take note of what may be happening with your older neighbors and acquaintances. Do they seem to be withdrawn, nervous, fearful, sad, or anxious, especially around certain people, when they have not seemed so in the past? If you suspect abuse of neglect - report abuse online or by phone at 1-800-252-5400

APS Facts and Figures

  • The mission of APS is to protect the elderly and adults with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by investigating, and providing or arranging for services necessary to alleviate or prevent further maltreatment.
  • Texas has more than 2.3 million residents 65 or older. Nearly one out of five people have a disability, and almost half of those older than 65 have a disability.
  • In 2009, APS completed 72,265 investigations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving adults living at home. Of these, more than 50,936 were confirmed. As a comparison, in 2008 APS completed 68,683 investigations and confirmed in 48,380 cases.
  • In the last decade, the number of in-home cases investigated by APS has more than doubled.
  • APS serves those 65 or older, and those 18 to 64 with a disabling condition.

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