Memphis, TN, – According to recent estimates, there are approximately more than 172,000 residents aged 60 and older in Shelby County, and research indicates that one in ten of these older adults could be a victim of abuse and neglect. Elder abuse affects communities on many levels, from public health to civic participation to economic resources. In Memphis and Shelby County, CREA works with a network of agencies to address elder abuse and improve the protection of older adults. Led by a team of professional victim advocates and care coordinators, CREA’s multi-disciplinary team connects older adults to the resources they need to be safe and independent.
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006 in an effort to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for our communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to the principle of justice for all.
“When it comes to protecting older adults, everyone shares some responsibility because for our communities to thrive, we need everyone in them to thrive too,” said Olliette Murry-Drobot, executive director of the Family Safety Center, where CREA is housed.
In Memphis and Shelby County, CREA directs community resources toward addressing elder abuse by allowing victims to receive all the support they need in one place with the help of a care coordinator. These services include victim advocacy, law enforcement, healthcare services, legal support, and housing assistance.
In addition to collaborating with partner agencies to streamline and coordinate the provision of services to this community, here are some of the issues that CREA supports to strengthen our social supports for older adults:
- Develop programs to educate families and professionals who work with older adults to understand the importance of preventing isolation, how to spot the warning signs of abuse, and what to do to address abuse or neglect.
- Collaborate with community centers that work as intergenerational spaces that allow older people to build relationships and participate in the work, play, and life of our neighborhoods.
- Think about the role of transportation in reducing social isolation and adjust systems so that we can all continue to move throughout our communities as we age.
By doing all that we can to strengthen the social support structure, we reduce social isolation, protect communities and families against elder abuse.
Although Tennessee law requires reporting suspicion of abuse or neglect, the majority of incidents will most likely be unreported. Report concerns of elder abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS) in Tennessee. Call 888-APS-TENN to investigate allegations.
Ways you can help:
- Keep in contact and talk with your older friends, neighbors, and relatives frequently
- Be aware and alert for the possibility of abuse
- Look around and take note of what may be happening with your older neighbors and acquaintances
- Ask questions and listen
About CREA: In 2015, the Plough Foundation funded the Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse (CREA) after extensive research about the most pressing issues facing older adults in Memphis and Shelby County. For more information, visit plough.org/aginginitiative. CREA represents a comprehensive, community-wide effort to make Shelby County a safe community for people of all ages. CREA improves the protection of older adults and gives them a voice through: commitment, communication, and shared vision by the CCR team; victim-centered services that support older adults; and awareness and education to the entire community. In most cases of elder abuse, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows and trust; two-thirds of perpetrators of elder abuse are related to their victims. That’s why CREA care coordinators and other CREA team members are housed at the Family Safety Center, where the infrastructure is in place to provide civil, criminal, health, and social services to victims who know their abusers. For more information about CREA visit familysafetycenter.org/how-we-help/crea/.