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June declared Elder Abuse Awareness Month

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

Chilton County Probate Judge Jason Calhoun signed a proclamation naming June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month for Chilton County during a ceremony at Senior Connection in Clanton on June 5.

The proclamation is an annual event that marks Chilton County as part of the larger World Elder Abuse Awareness Month activities.

“Whereas, Chilton County senior and vulnerable adults are valued citizens of Chilton County, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure they live safely and with dignity,” Calhoun read as part of the proclamation. “Whereas, combating abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults will help improve the quality of life for all seniors and vulnerable adults in Chilton County and will allow seniors and vulnerable adults to continue to live as independently as possible contributing to the life and vibrancy of Chilton County. And now, therefore, I, Judge Jason Calhoun, judge of probate of Chilton County, do hereby recognize June 2019 as Elder Abuse Awareness Month.”

According to Chilton County DHR director Marilyn Colson, Tim Bryant, the local Adult Protective Service worker, investigated 132 reports of elderly abuse in the county during the 2018 fiscal year.

“As long as folks have family, for the most part, family takes care of them,” she said. “But sometimes folks outlive their family (or otherwise do not have any).”

Purple bead necklaces were handed out during the event, as purple is the color selected to remind everyone of the cause behind Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

“The Chilton County Department of Human Resources is encouraging the Chilton County community to remember that the vulnerable elderly and disabled in our community and the state need to be protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation,” Bryant said via a press release. “Attention is brought to this important issue throughout the state and nation during the month of June.”

According to the release, 10,780 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation were reported statewide during the 2018 fiscal year.

In some cases, “the elderly individual may have outlived their caregivers and support system, and they become victims of self-neglect when they can no longer take care of themselves,” said adult service supervisor Amanda Martin in the release.

Local DHR partners with the probate court, local attorneys (including the district attorney’s office), the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging, local senior service agencies, local law enforcement physicians, hospitals and home health agencies to assess and help meet the needs of the elderly in Chilton County.

“Arranging services to protect these citizens is a community team effort,” Colson said.

Anyone who suspects mistreatment of an elderly or disabled person is asked to call Chilton County DHR at 205-280-2000. Emergency situations should be reported to 911. Reports may also be made toll free to the Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-458-7214 or online at aps@dhr.alabama.gov.