June 15th is designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and highlights the problems of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders, and encourages proactive response and prevention. The Board of El Paso County Commissioners at its regular meeting Thursday, June 6, recognized June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day with a Proclamation.
“Abuse, neglect and exploitation is a tragedy inflicted on vulnerable senior citizens and is an ever-increasing problem that crosses all socio-economic boundaries,” said Commissioner Cami Bremer as she read the Proclamation into the record. “Combating mistreatment of senior citizens will improve the quality of life for all senior citizens in El Paso County and will allow them to live as independently as possible and contribute to the life and vibrancy of our County.”
An event for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, at Silver Key Senior Services Community Room, 1655 S. Murray Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80916. Presentations include segments on financial exploitation and scams, signs of abuse, decision-making authority and caregiver care.
“Seniors are valuable members of the community and their maltreatment diminishes all of us,” said Christopher Garvin, Deputy Executive Director of the El Paso County Department of Human Services. “It is everyone’s responsibility to stop elder abuse.”
In 2018, there were 3,497 reports to El Paso County Adult Protective Services.
“It’s heartbreaking to see how those we should be honoring are treated so poorly by those who should be caring for them,” said Board Chair Mark Waller. “It is critical to have a robust program to protect those who are vulnerable.”
Research suggests that 1 in 14 abuse cases is never reported, Garvin said. Self-neglect, caretaker neglect and exploitation are the types of cases DHS deals with most often, followed by physical abuse. Commissioner Holly Williams urged County residents to speak to seniors in their lives, and make sure they have the help and care needed. Staff and others in the community work tirelessly to improve lives and safety.
“These are the most dedicated individuals I’ve ever met,” said Aric Bidwell, Adult and Family Services Manager. “We would not be able to do the work that we do without our community partners.”
Board Vice-Chair Longinos Gonzalez, Jr., said: “I want to thank all of you, and the staff, for the work they do to help those in need.”
The Proclamation also recognized the El Paso County Pikes Peak Elder Abuse Coalition (PPEAC), a collaborative effort among regional agencies, nonprofits and businesses. Members play a proactive role in finding ways to help elders who may be abused, neglected or exploited, including setting up an emergency elder shelter program.
Since 2016, the emergency shelter program has helped more than 130 seniors find safe housing. The work of the group has received national honors, and PPEAC will be presenting at an upcoming conference so other regions can replicate the programs. Denver and Aurora have already adopted the PPEAC model to make improvements in elder and adult safety.
El Paso County DHS has partnered with Silver Key and others in the PPEAC to host the special event June 14, 2019, to teach seniors and their caregivers about recognizing abuse and mistreatment and taking preventative measures.