WEDOWEE – Randolph County Department of Human Resources (DHR) celebrated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by calling attention to vulnerable adults in the community.
Dressed in purple, the color associated with elder abuse prevention, DHR’s Adult Protective Services team delivered more than 100 goodie bags to area partners and stakeholders. Among these groups were law enforcement agencies, health care providers, caregivers, courts and banks.
DHR stressed the importance of reporting suspected elder abuse, neglect and exploitation whenever concerns arise. The department also highlighted the need for continued collaboration and thanked partners for helping to keep vulnerable adults safe.
Randolph County DHR has recently seen a significant increase in reports of suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation involving vulnerable adults.
The department has received and responded to 73 reports so far in fiscal year 2022, surpassing the previous year’s total of 67 reports. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
The increase in reports runs parallel to the rapidly growing elderly population. By 2040, the number of Americans who are 65 and older is expected to reach approximately 80.8 million – more than double the amount in the year 2000.
It is important for everyone in the community to learn the warning signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation, and to speak up at the first sign of mistreatment.
Warning signs include: Increased fear or anxiety; isolation from friends or family; withdrawal from normal activities; unusual changes in behavior or sleep; unexplained injuries, bruises, cuts or sores; unsanitary living conditions and poor hygiene; and unusual or sudden changes in financial spending patterns or important documents, such as a will.
Regardless of age or ability, everyone deserves to be safe from harm. Randolph County DHR strives to protect vulnerable adults and prevent unnecessary institutionalization, while helping them live independently within their communities for as long as possible.
Randolph County DHR Director Nikki Wynn said, “Community members can report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation to our office by calling 256-357-3000. Reports can be made anonymously.
“Also, we have a great need for adult foster homes in Randolph County and across the state. Opening your home to a vulnerable adult is a terrific way to prevent mistreatment, while giving back to the community.”