World Elder Abuse Day is June 15

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 14, 2024

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June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Beaufort County Department of Social Services is encouraging everyone to join the agency in raising awareness of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

When adults age 60 or above are abused, neglected, or financially exploited, that mistreatment is called elder abuse. Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and abandonment are all forms of elder abuse. An estimated 5 million older Americans experience some form of elder abuse each year, according to the National Council on Aging. Abuse can happen anywhere and can be perpetrated by anyone –– including family members, medical providers, caregivers, friends and strangers.

Beaufort County DSS receives and evaluates local reports of elder abuse to determine if protective services are needed. Social workers analyze the details of each case and work with the affected individual and their family to identify and prevent problems that contribute to elder abuse. During this process, a social worker can initiate court action as necessary to protect a vulnerable adult and mobilize essential services on behalf of the adult.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Adult Services Final Report for the fiscal year 2022-2023, Beaufort County received 305 Adult Protective Services reports in that timeframe. Of those 305 reports, 264 met the criteria of either abuse, neglect or exploitation, and thus were accepted for investigation.

Of those 264 reports, 40% were confirmed (the N.C. average confirmation rate was 47%) and the substantiation rate was 19% (the average N.C. substantiation rate was 24%).

Confirmation occurs upon initiation/investigation of a case; a social worker verifies ( via interview with the older adult, perpetrator, family, friends, banks, law enforcement and medical interviews, etc.) the allegations included in the report are true.  Therefore, the allegations are “confirmed.” If the allegations are confirmed and DSS determines that the adult needs assistance at the conclusion of the case, the case is substantiated and taken into treatment to provide the resources the elder needs to remain in their environment safely. Through reporting cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation, the agency can provide support for the older adults of Beaufort County.

In the fiscal year 2022-2023, DSS agencies in North Carolina received a total of 35,400 Adult Protective Service reports. That was 3,325 more reports than the previous fiscal year.

If you witness any form of elder abuse, or suspect that such abuse has taken place, contact your local DSS to file an Adult Protective Services report. Call 911 if there is an immediate need for protection. APS reporting is kept confidential. Your name will not be disclosed if you report a case of elder abuse.

To file an Adult Protective Services report in Beaufort County, call 252-975-5500 and request to speak with Adult Services intake. Beaufort County DSS’s physical address is 632 W. Fifth St., Washington, NC 27889.