Josh Houben, with the Santee Lynches Regional Council of Governments, attended the June Clarendon County Council Meeting on Monday night. He was there to help raise awareness of the elder abuse issue in Clarendon County. “We strongly believe elders deserve respect and to be treated fairly and with dignity, and to live free from abuse and any kind of exploitation,” said Houben.
During the meeting, Council Chairman Dwight Stewart read a proclamation. “We, Clarendon County Council, do hereby proclaim June 15, 2018, as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Clarendon County, and encourage all of our communities to recognize and celebrate older adults and their ongoing contributions to the success and vitality of our country,” said Stewart.
Up through the first half of the twentieth century, abuse laws focused on child abuse and spousal abuse. However, as life expectancies increased, a new demographic of vulnerability emerged. Elder abuse came to the forefront as a national concern in the 1970s. By 1981, the issue had increased to such a point that the House Select Committee on Aging was formed in the U.S. Congress. This committee held hearings on elder abuse, and state legislations began to pass laws to address adult protective services.
As Baby Boomers, those born between the mid-1940s and the early 1960s, move into the elder category, the number of possibly vulnerable adults raises to new levels. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), “Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.”
The NCOA further states that 60% of abusers are family members such as adult children or spouses. Elder abuse can take the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, confinement, passive neglect, willful deprivation or financial exploitation. Elders who have been abused are at a 300% greater risk of dying than those who have not been abused.
Anyone who suspects an elder is being abused is urged to report the suspected abuse to the Clarendon County Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services. They may be reached at (803) 435-4303.
If the suspected abuse is occurring in a residential program for the SC Department of Mental Health or the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, report it immediately to SLED – Special Victims Unit at (866) 200-6066.
To help raise awareness, residents are asked to wear something purple on Friday—be it a ribbon, tie, shirt, socks, jewelry or other item—to show support for ending elder abuse in Clarendon County.
To learn more, visit www.santeelynchescog.org or contact Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Sheila Brooks, MSW, at (803) 774-1983.