Groups receive award for elder abuse prevention

FRANKFORT – Two community groups have received awards from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) to help their efforts to stop elder abuse.

At a conference focusing on elder abuse prevention last month, CHFS presented two Public Awareness Initiative awards – one for $400 to the Kentucky River Council Against the Maltreatment of Elders (CAME) and another for $250 to the Big Sandy Elder Abuse Council.

Pam Cotton, director of the Division of Protection and Permanency within the CHFS Department for Community Based Services, attended the conference and said that local efforts like those of the winning councils are making a difference for Kentucky’s senior citizens.

“Through education and awareness, we can all be a part of protecting elders, and even save lives,” she said. “These two groups show how local groups can make a big impact through their specialized efforts. I commend them for their creative prevention plans and for working so closely with DCBS staff in their regions to meet the needs of the community.”

CAME and Big Sandy are two of the state’s network of 24 Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse (LCCEAs), which covers 93 counties. The councils provide focused education to their communities to protect the elder population from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

CAME operates in Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe counties. In the past year, CAME has hosted a Senior Safety and Advocacy Day, sponsored a children’s poster contest and launched its annual prevention campaign, which included council representatives’ visits to area senior centers.

The council also held its first Regional Elder Abuse Awareness Day at the Hazard National Guard Armory in October. About 300 people attended. The event included information booths, speakers and games for seniors – including a cake walk. To participate in the cake walk, seniors had to recite the toll-free hotline number for reporting elder abuse.

The Big Sandy Council includes Floyd, Johnson, Martin, Magoffin and Pike counties. Its work over the past year includes providing fans, brochures, posters and children’s coloring books with a prevention message to churches, businesses, health fairs and other events.

Big Sandy partnered with the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund (AppalReD) for a Domestic Violence/Elder Abuse Awareness conference in October, and about 130 people attended. The theme of the meeting was that domestic violence has no age limit. Proceeds from a silent auction at the conference went to the Big Sandy council and AppalReD.

This spring, Big Sandy also launched a “Spring Training Project” to coincide with the start of baseball season. Regionwide, community partners were challenged to train the most people through screening of an elder abuse prevention video and group discussion. The council also sponsored its first Elder Abuse Awareness 5K Run/Walk in Prestonsburg and raised more than $2,000.

The elder abuse prevention conference last month was an annual gathering to recognize the work of the LCCEAs.

CHFS provides administrative support to the LCCEAs, which provide elder abuse education and outreach at the local and regional levels depending on the needs of the communities. Kentucky’s network involves local law enforcement, county officials, advocates, nursing homes, local businesses, social service agencies and individuals. They share a common goal of ending abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly in their communities by offering specific advocacy, outreach and prevention strategies.

Kentucky received nearly 24,000 calls to report abuse, neglect and exploitation of people age 60 and older for state fiscal year 2014.

In Kentucky, reporting suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation is the law, and it’s confidential. The toll-free reporting hotline is 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597-2331).

Kentuckians can help the fight against elder abuse by becoming involved with their LCCEAs. Membership is free and open to anyone interested in working to prevent elder abuse in his or her community.

To become involved with your community’s LCCEA or to inquire about events, contact state LCCEA liaison Stacy Carey at 502-564-7043.

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