Last week, the CCRC (Coordinated Community Response Coalition) of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne hosted the first regional summit for Elder Abuse. It included task representatives from Washtenaw, Monroe, St. Clair, and Livingston counties. Our purpose and goal was to discuss the many barriers we all face with assisting our victims of elder abuse, as well as the sharing of best practices for handling these difficult circumstances.
Elder abuse is a significant public health problem. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. Studies show elder abuse is experienced by 1 out of every 10 people, ages 60 and older, who live at home. This statistic is likely an underestimate because many victims are unable or afraid to disclose or report the violence.
I have been part of the CCRC for Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne County’s for over 10 years. The CCRC is a network of professional’s who work with older adults. We have representatives from the legal world including attorneys, prosecutors, judges, police officers, social service agencies, adult protective services, financial institutions, and more. We have hosted educational training’s on how to recognize, react, and respond to victims of elder abuse.
One of the great benefits of belonging to this network is having access to a vast array of professionals that we can tap into to assist our clients. We also have provided educational outreach materials, hosted 2 international conferences: “Elder Abuse Has No Boarders,” which brought in top level professionals who work on a daily basis with victims of elder abuse to share their experiences and provide insight for other professionals.
At the end of the Summit we all agreed there is so much more work to be done to build awareness of elder abuse and ways to prevent it, and to successfully prosecute it. We also agreed that by sharing best practices, concerns, and ideas can make a bigger impact than alone. Some of these applications included; development of a county-wide task force on Hoarding, outreach of printed and social media pieces on Elder Abuse Awareness, and educational training’s to law enforcement, emergency responders, senior center staff, and nursing home staff. We will be also creating a web-based sharing library of resources each Task Force member will be able to access.
Being part of this alliance has been beneficial for our community. Elder Abuse occurs in every community and affects seniors of all socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and Auburn Hills is no exception. There have been situations over the years when I was assisting someone who had been a victim of elder abuse, and having the ability to reach out to my counterparts in the CCRC aided in me being able to obtain the appropriate assistance for our victims. Another benefit has been the ongoing training and education in awareness and prevention of elder abuse I have participated in, as well as, coordinating training’s.
Margaret Mead said it best: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services