Living on the Paradise Coast, one might wonder if something like elder abuse touches our community. The National Council on Aging estimates that one in ten Americans ages 60 and over have experienced abuse falling into two major categories — neglect or exploitation.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) reports having conducted 570 investigations in 2017, specifically in Collier County. The leading maltreatment in Collier is self-neglect accounting for nearly 28% of the cases, followed by inadequate supervision and exploitation.
To bring this issue into focus, the Leadership Coalition on Aging petitioned the Board of County Commissioners to adopt a proclamation designating June 15, 2018 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Collier County. The proclamation was unanimously passed on June 12, 2018, and accepted by Heather Baker, Chair, Leadership Coalition on Aging (LCA).
“The proclamation gives us the opportunity to recognize the steps our community has taken to address senior needs. ‘Seniors’ are not just older adults. As we age, we face physiological changes that alter the way our bodies metabolize medications for example. Seniors, and especially the growing cohort of 80 & over seniors, face increased risks of vulnerability, and an array of needs that require senior-specific thinking,” Baker explained during the proclamation ceremony.
The Leadership Coalition on Aging, sponsored by Collier Senior Resources, has provided support of initiatives to advance the needs of seniors in our community. The coalition, now comprised of over 50 human service providers, meets monthly to identify gaps in the social fabric that adversely affect seniors.
“Examples of initiatives the LCA has supported here in Collier County include the development of two senior centers, and most recently the advent of a Senior Advisory Committee to the Board of County Commissioners. By County Commission establishing a Senior Advisory Committee, issues like senior affordable housing, hunger and malnutrition, social isolation, and today’s issue of elder abuse can be brought into a renewed light where we can take steps to improve the lives of seniors and those who care for them,” said Baker at the Commission meeting.
Neglect is the front-runner elder abuse issue here in Collier County. The term can relate to a variety of underlying problems seniors face which stem from broad social issues that continue to develop as our population ages. Manifestation are seen on a person-by-person basis as malnutrition, starvation, dehydration, over-or under-medication, unsanitary living conditions, or lack of personal hygiene.
Vulnerable seniors may also experience a lack of access to basic services we take for granted, such as air-conditioning, running water, electricity, or medical care. The Department of Children and Families encourage everyone to learn the signs of adult abuse, which can be found on their webpage, http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/adult-protective-services/what-is-adult-abuse.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was established in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) and the World Health Organization. To learn more about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and the INPEA’s work to promote a better understanding of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults, visit: http://www.inpea.net/
About the Leadership Coalition on Aging (LCA) – Sponsored by Collier Senior Resources (CSR), the Leadership Coalition on Aging was established in 2012 as a means for local health and human service providers to collaborate toward enriching the lives of Collier County seniors and their caregivers. The coalition seeks to foster a community environment that promotes well-being through resource sharing, education, advocacy, and community outreach. For more information about the Leadership Coalition on Aging visit: http://collierseniorresources.org/leadership-coalition-on-aging/