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It's World Elder Abuse Awareness Day | How to spot the signs and report abuse

Tennessee officials said the state received more than 21,000 reports of suspected abuse last year.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, aimed at bringing awareness to signs of abuse, how to report abuse, and resources for caretakers.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) and Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) said the state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) program is leading efforts to coordinate among state agencies and councils and commissions, as well as law enforcement and legal agencies, to combat abuse.

The APS program investigates reported allegations of neglect, abuse, and financial exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable adults. The APS is partnering with Tennessee State University this year for its annual CARES Conference to work on improving conditions for vulnerable adults.

Officials said APS received more than 21,000 reports of suspected abuse last year. They said most reports involved neglect - including self-neglect, which occurs when the basic needs of a dependent adult aren’t being met. 

Experts said neglect may be unintentional or intentional on the part of a caregiver who is tasked with providing for a person’s basic needs. Self-neglect happens when a person is unable to care for themselves or get the care they need.

Common signs include:

  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration.
  • Untreated physical problems such as bed sores.
  • Unsanitary living conditions, dirt, bugs, soiled bedding, and clothes.
  • Being left un-bathed.
  • Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather.
  • Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water, faulty electrical wiring, and other fire hazards).

People can report suspected abuse at https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/ or by calling 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366) toll free.

“Ensuring the well-being of vulnerable Tennesseans is a constant priority for our department, which our Adult Protective Services team works tirelessly to do,” said Clarence H. Carter, TDHS Commissioner, in a news release. “Their work, and the protection of older and vulnerable Tennesseans is incumbent upon the contributions of all of us, which is why awareness of elder abuse is important, as well as support to help prevent it.”

“Today and every day we renew our commitment to combat and raise awareness of elder abuse so that all older adults are able to thrive,” said TCAD Executive Director James Dunn. “Combating elder abuse begins with each of us, and as mandatory reporters, we will never shy away from ensuring every Tennessean–no matter their age–can live their life with dignity and respect.”

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