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Kentucky Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day; Prevention groups receive awards

Press Release Date:  Friday, June 10, 2011  
Contact Information:  Statewide News Release Media Contact: Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6786, ext. 3104; or Jill Midkiff, (502) 564-7042  

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 10, 2011) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by reminding citizens to immediately report suspected abuse or neglect.

“We have a duty to protect Kentuckians of all ages from abuse, neglect and exploitation,” CHFS Secretary Janie Miller said. “Our most vulnerable citizens deserve our respect and our commitment to keeping them safe. We all can be a part of establishing their well-being.”

Wednesday, June 15, marks the sixth annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a time to raise awareness of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation throughout the world.

In Kentucky, advocates of elder abuse prevention have encouraged individuals to wear purple to show their commitment to protecting older citizens and spreading the awareness message.

Reporting suspected abuse or neglect is the law, and it’s confidential. The toll-free reporting hotline is (877) KYSAFE1.

Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation are largely under-reported and under-recognized throughout the world, said Steven Fisher, manager of the Adult Safety Branch, part of the CHFS Department for Community Based Services (DCBS).

Kentucky received 13,491 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of people age 60 and older for state fiscal year 2010.

Observers may not report a situation to keep good relations with a neighbor, Fisher said. But that’s the wrong decision, he said.

“Most incidents of abuse, neglect or exploitation are undetected to begin with,” Fisher said. “It’s a crime not to report what you suspect. The expert staff answering your call can ask the right questions to determine whether a situation should be investigated.”

“Your call may save a life,” he said. 

Several advocacy groups working to educate Kentuckians about reporting and prevention have received funding to help their efforts.

The groups and their awards were announced last month at an annual reception to recognize the work of the state’s Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs).

At the event, three LCCEAs received Public Awareness Initiative Awards of $415 for their education efforts. Those recipients are:

• Kentucky River Council Against Maltreatment of Elders (Lee, Wolfe, Owsley, Breathitt, Knott, Perry, Leslie and Letcher counties)
• Madison County Council on Elder Maltreatment Prevention (Madison)
• Louisville Metro Elder Abuse Council (Jefferson)

These LCCEAAs will use their awards to continue their awareness efforts.

Three Public Awareness Incentive Awards of $250 each were given to LCCEAs that operate without any funding. Those recipients are:
• FIVCO Elder Abuse Council (Boyd, Carter, Greenup and Lawrence counties)
• Casey County Elder Abuse Council
• KIPDA Rural Elder Abuse Council (Bullitt, Henry, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble counties)

Each of the LCCEAs received a $150 award from the Graduate Center of Gerontology at the University of Kentucky for promotion or training efforts. The center, led by Associate Dean for Research Pamela Teaster, recently won a one-time internal grant of $10,000 from President Lee Todd’s Commonwealth Collaborative Fund for community engagement. Teaster’s group is using part of the award to study the LCCEAs and help them develop and strengthen their work.

CHFS provides administrative support to the state’s network of 29 Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs) that cover 110 counties.

LCCEAs provide elder abuse education and outreach at the local and regional levels depending on the needs of the communities. Kentucky’s network involves local law enforcement, county officials, advocates, nursing homes, local businesses, social service agencies and individuals. They share a common goal of ending abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly in their communities by offering specific advocacy, outreach and prevention strategies.

LCCEA membership is free and open to anyone interested in working to prevent elder abuse in their community.

Several LCCEAs are planning events in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. To become involved with your community’s LCCEA or to inquire about events, contact state LCCEA liaison Stacy Carey at (502) 564-7043.

Get more information about the councils and recognizing the signs of elder abuse online at

Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse

If you believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or exploited, call (877) KYSAFE1, the state’s abuse hotline. If you believe there is imminent risk, immediately call 911 or local law enforcement.

Learn to recognize the following signs of neglect and abuse.
─ Obvious malnutrition, dehydration
─ Dirty and uncombed hair; dirty and torn or climate-inappropriate clothes; or offensive body odor
─ Hoarding
─ Lack of glasses, dentures or hearing aid, or lack of medical care
─ Bedsores
─ Recent suffering or loss of spouse, family members or close friends
Physical Abuse
─ 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
Sexual Abuse
─ 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
Emotional/Psychological Abuse
─ 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
Financial Abuse
─ 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

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Last Updated 6/10/2011