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Health & Human Services News

Vulnerable Adults & Elder Abuse Awareness Month - June 2014

A proclamation designating June as “Vulnerable Adults and Elder Abuse Awareness Month” was presented Tuesday, June 17 at the Buncombe County Commissioners meeting. Kevin Turner, Aging, Adult and Veteran's Services Program Administrator, provided a presentation about the work Adult Protective Services is doing to help protect elder adults and adults with disabilities in our community.

Why It’s Important

In 2013 there were 11,251 confirmed cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation against elder and disabled adults reported to North Carolina’s 100 county departments of social services. Of those reports, 1,056 were in Buncombe County. That’s 1,056 too many and countless more go unreported.

Many victims do not report because they feel ashamed, are in denial, worry they are to blame, are afraid to report because they are intimidated by the abuser, and some are unable to speak out due to physical or mental disabilities.

Mistreatment takes on many forms and affects vulnerable adults across all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races. It can happen at home, in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals and other institutional settings. The perpetrator can be a family member, a person the elder or vulnerable adult trusted, employees and temporary staff at nursing or assisted living homes, or someone who becomes a family friend with the intention to prey on the elder or disabled adult.

Recognize the Signs

  1. Abuse is when a caretaker of an elder or adult with disabilities causes physical or mental pain, limits movement or activities of the adult, or withholds care or resources from the adult. Common signs of abuse include:
    1. Unexplained bruises, welts, crusts and scratches, rope burns
    2. Broken bones and fractures
    3. Open wounds, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
    4. Broken eyeglasses
    5. Reports of being hit, slapped, kicked
    6. Sudden change in behavior
    7. Adult seems intimidated, stressed or depressed
  2. Exploitation is when someone illegally or improperly uses the resources of an adult with disabilities or elder. Common signs of exploitation include:
    1. Missing ATM or credit cards
    2. Transfer of property or frequent loans to family members or others
    3. Adult not allowed to make or participate in financial decisions
    4. Frequent entries in sweepstakes or mail from sweepstakes agencies or investment schemes
    5. Frequent calls by telemarketers
    6. Family or others dependent on adult for financial support
    7. Lack of amenities the victim could afford
  3. Caretaker neglect is when a caretaker of an elder or adult with disabilities fails to provide necessary services to avoid harm and maintain health.
  4. Self-neglect is when an elder or an adult with disabilities, who lives alone or has no caretaker, is not able to care for one’s self. Common signs of caretaker neglect and self-neglect include:
    1. Bed Sores
    2. Poor hygiene or lack of clean or appropriate clothing
    3. Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
    4. Lack of adequate medical care
    5. Malnutrition and dehydration
    6. Confusion

You Can Help

Protecting elder adults and adults with disabilities is a community responsibility. Individuals, organizations, and communities can help raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders and adults with disabilities.

There are many things you can do to help. Check on an elder or disabled adult relative in your life. Get involved and volunteer your time with local organizations such as Land of Sky or the Council on Aging to make a difference in the life of an elder or disabled adult. There are also opportunities to volunteer on nursing home and adult care home advisory committees. You can also call 211 to find other local organizations that work with elders and disabled adults with volunteer opportunities.

Report Abuse in Buncombe County

If you have any reason to believe an adult with disabilities or elder is being abused, neglected, or exploited then you are required by NC law to make a report to your local county social services office.
It’s easy to make a report. You don’t need proof and you do not have to reveal your name and information. All reporter information is kept confidential.

To make a report in Buncombe County, call the Adult Protective Services report line at 250-5800.


Administration for Community Living

Administration on Aging

Buncombe County Health and Human Services

Council on Aging

Land of Sky Regional Council

National Center on Elder Abuse

NC Department of Health and Human Services