By Anna-Claire Terry
Community members gathered on the front steps of the T.K. Davis Justice Center on Friday morning to observe Elder Abuse Awareness Month at an event held by the Lee-Russell Council of Governments, Lee County Department of Human Resources, Alabama Silver Haired Legislature and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.
According to Jackie Pinkard, director of Area Agency on Aging for the Lee-Russell Council of Governments, events are held by communities and government agencies throughout the country in June, even thoughElder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15, officially. The color chosen to represent the awareness month is purple.
“The purpose of this event was to let members of the community know that elder abuse does happen. Your race, income level does not matter, Pinkard said. She added that the primary perpetrators are usually adult-children or family members.
Statistics from Lee County DHR reflect more than 8,000 reported cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation in 2015. According to the Administration for Community Living, for every case reported, 23 cases go unreported.
Speakers at the event included Pinkard, DHR director Emily Jones and adult protective service supervisor Kelly Pinkard, Sheriff Jay Jones and Selena Daniel of Alabama Silver Haired Legislature.
“Alabama Silver Haired Legislature was the group that was instrumental in getting stronger laws in the books for individuals that have financial crimes against seniors,” Pinkard said.
Pinkard said this is the event’s first year in Lee County, and although several public officials came out to show support and Congressman Mike Roger’s office was represented, the turn-out was not as large as anticipated. “We hope to make this an annual event,” she said.
Purple balloons were released in honor of those who have suffered from elder abuse.
“We want to let everyone know that they do not have to hesitate,” Pinkard said. “If it’s a gut feeling or a hunch, to go ahead and report it so DHR or the sheriff’s department can go out and take a look to make sure everything is okay.”