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April 18, 2012

Elder Abuse An Issue We Should Confront (USA)

 Aging Gracefully: Elder abuse an issue we should confront
Apr. 9, 2012
Written by Dotty St. Amand

Recently I had the privilege of participating in the Aging in America conference held in Washington, D.C. The conference was attended by some 3,000 professionals from various disciplines in the field of aging representing every corner of the United States.
At the opening session of the conference, Assistant Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee of the Administration on Aging addressed the crowd of professionals who sat eager to hear the recent news from Capital Hill on issues related to services for aging. As expected Greenlee talked about Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care.
Just as the powers that be were giving her the signal to wrap up her speech, she politely asked for just five more minutes – in many ways, those five minutes were the most powerful. In those final few minutes, she boldly stated that in speaking of our nation’s vision she must address blindness.
Assistant Secretary Greenlee spoke with much sensitivity about the blindness our country has to the issue of elder abuse and neglect. She challenged the audience to take a leadership role in asking the hard questions about whether we have older adults in our communities who are being abused, neglected or exploited.
More importantly, she pointed out that our national response must be as simple as asking ourselves if we know who those people are that may be in abusive situations and if we know what they need from us.
Abuse and neglect of the elderly is a topic most would people would like to ignore. Not because we lack compassion, but because we want so badly to believe that it does not really happen. Sadly, too often older adults are — in the words of Secretary Greenlee — “hit, raped, neglected or swindled.”
We must work together to put an end to the mistreatment of older adults.
Lee County is on the right track to make a difference. Lee Elder Abuse Prevention Partnership is our local coalition of community partners who are committed to addressing the issues surrounding elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The diversity of agencies involved in the coalition is likely the reason this fairly young coalition has succeeded in bringing leaders and consumers together. From human services agencies and long-term care providers to law enforcement and protective services, the participation of key leaders in the field of aging demonstrates how important this issue is to our community.
Take action by joining LEAPP on April 24 for a public screening of the short film “An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America.” This free event is hosted by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. LEAPP members will lead a group discussion immediately following the film. To reserve your seat, call 590-0861.
Dotty St. Amand is an administrator of memory care assisted living in Fort Myers and adjunct faculty teaching dynamics of aging for allied health. She can be reached at dottystamand@gmail.com.

 SOURCE:      NEWS PRESS
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