Mulhern: Recognizing elder abuse in Columbia County

As Americans, we believe in justice for all. Yet we fail to live up to this promise when we allow older members of our society to be abused or neglected. Columbia County Adult Protective Services Social Workers investigated a total of 165 reports of abuse and/or neglect in 2018.

Older people are vital, contributing members of American society and their maltreatment diminishes all of us. Just as we have confronted and addressed the social issues of child abuse and domestic violence, we should be able to find solutions to address issues like elder abuse, which also threatens the well-being of our community.

During the month of June we recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On this day, communities in the USA and all over the world will sponsor events to highlight solutions to this systemic social challenge.

The ADRC of Columbia County will be hosting a local resource fair, a speaker from Senior Medicare Patrol and refreshments at an event to participate in this national conversation on Wednesday, June 19 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the ADRC of Columbia County, 111 E. Mullett Street in Portage.

It is harder for older people to stay involved with and connected to our communities as they age. As a result, older people are more likely to experience social isolation, which increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect.

The ADRC of Columbia County believes that we can design stronger supports within the community to keep our older people connected and protect them from abuse, whether financial, emotional, physical or sexual. When we address a root cause, like social isolation, we also make it less likely that people will neglect themselves (self-neglect).

Older adults who are socially connected and protected from harm are less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to go into nursing homes and less likely to die. We can and must create healthier and safer living environments for older adults, including their homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

Becky Mulhern,

Portage

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