MAYVILLE – June is known as World Elderly Abuse Awareness Month and various Chautauqua County officials are seeking to spread the word.
“Extend, Express” is those of this year’s campaign and encourages people to sign up with seniors who have been particularly isolated throughout the pandemic.
Nicole Parshall, a supervising attorney for the Center for Elderly Justice and Justice and program director of the Elderly Advocacy Program, was present and spoke about some of the issues elders faced during the pandemic.
“Last year has been extremely difficult for our country as a whole,” Parshall said at Thursday’s meeting. “For older adults, especially in a large, rural area such as our country, and for those who are already experiencing some degree of isolation before the pandemic, this year has brought sometimes dire consequences.”
Parshall said the community is integral in highlighting elder abuse.
“We know that identifying elder abuse … so often relies on the eyes and ears of our community,” she said. “Indicators of banks, neighbors, those in the service industries, health care aids (and) family and friends all play a vital role in identifying the abuse and exploitation of the elderly.”
Parshall said victims of elder abuse may be discouraged from reporting elder abuse for a variety of reasons, which further emphasizes the importance of community members speaking out.
“Victims are so often isolated and frightened to report abuse, often because of long-standing family dynamics, concern for loved ones – even when they themselves are committing the abuse and threatening to lose their independence,” Tha Parshall.
In the Elderly Advocate Program, the pandemic caused a significant decline in the abuse cases brought to it. Parshall attributes this to the lack of witnesses because of people staying at home, closing businesses and older adults are afraid to enter the community to find support.
These conditions were a breeding ground for abuse and exploitation throughout the past year. Parshall said her program has proven a “Influx” of cases in recent weeks and months.
“Finally, as we emerge from this crisis, older adults are seeking the help and support they need.” Tha Parshall. “I cannot overestimate the importance of a community engaged in identifying and addressing elder abuse.”
“We need you to contact older adults in your neighborhood and in your businesses.” Tha Parshall.
Some signs of elder abuse include changes in spending habits, hygiene and mood or a new friend or partner showing signs of being overly engaged or controlling.
District Executive PJ Wendel was also present to speak on the issue.
“Our elders, our parents, our grandparents took care of us, and they were our heroes,” he said, “So now is the time for us to take care of them. It is discouraging to hear that at this time, we are still facing these problems. ”
Wendel then issued a proclamation on behalf of the county emphasizing the presence and condemnation of elder abuse in the community.
Leanna Luka-Conley, Deputy Commissioner for Adults, Children and Family Services, was also present to discuss the effects of substance abuse on the elderly population.
“Increasing overdoses also have an impact on our elderly population by increasing the risk of exploitation by stealing prescription drugs and finances” she said. “It has also influenced our grandparents, taking on the role of parents of grandchildren because their children are struggling with addiction.”
“We must continue to step up our efforts as a whole community to ensure that this generation of individuals continues to live a quality life and be safe from abuse and harm,” he said. she continued.
Chautauqua District Attorney Jason Schmidt echoed the theme of this year’s campaign.
“They are isolated and that means they are more vulnerable,” Tha Schmidt. “What can we do? Reach has reached the older adults in our lives. Do not rely solely on the fact that they may have a provider. Speak. If you see or hear something that does not seem right, say something. And get educated. “I know where to go. Adult Protection Services, Center for Elderly Justice and Law Enforcement.”
State Assembly deputy Andy Goodell noted that every person in a community plays a role in bringing elder abuse to light.
“There is a role in each of us in helping to end elder abuse,” Tha Goodell. “This includes not only contacting friends and neighbors who are older and checking on their well-being, but also talking out loud. There is another thing: our role individually. ”
“It is up to all of us to lend a helping hand to our friends, our neighbors, our acquaintances who are older.” he continued. “Recognize that isolation and loneliness are important issues that we, individually, can help address.”
Lawmaker Lisa Vanstrom shared a few words on behalf of State Senator George Borrello.
“Older Americans have made invaluable contributions to our families, our communities, and our nation.” she said. “They deserve to live with dignity and respect, without abuse, negligence and indifference.”
“Essential to what we are as Americans is the idea that we are all together and that we have a fundamental duty to seek care for those in need, especially the most vulnerable among us,” Vanstrom continued. “We all have a role to play in protecting our population. Do not remain silent if you suspect elder abuse. ”
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