Governor Mary Fallin has signed a proclamation declaring June 15, 2015 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Oklahoma. In conjunction with the proclamation, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) is urging Oklahomans to report elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
“When you see something, say something,” said Gail Wettstein, DHS Director of Adult Protective Services (APS). “In Oklahoma, a startling number of our older citizens and neighbors are victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation – regardless of culture, race or income level.”
Elder abuse has become a significant public health and human rights issue in all fifty states. More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day and that trend will continue for the next two decades. Most vulnerable Oklahomans who are victims of abuse and neglect are women over the age of 60 and most of the maltreatment occurs in the victim’s own home.
In 2014, Adult Protective Services conducted more than 15,000 investigations into elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and more than 7,000 of the cases were confirmed. 65 percent of the cases were self-neglect and 12.5 percent were caretaker neglect. Abused and neglected older Oklahomans are somebody’s mom or dad, sister or brother, grandmother or grandfather.
If you suspect an older adult is in danger of abuse, neglect or exploitation, call your local DHS office during regular business hours or the statewide Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-522-3511.
Visit the DHS website to learn more about prevention and maltreatment of older adults, terminology about vulnerable adults and adult maltreatment, and warning signs of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Every vulnerable older adult in Oklahoma deserves a safe environment. DHS, its partner agencies, stakeholders, volunteers and advocates are working to help end elder abuse.