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AAAs Raise Awareness, Respond to Elder Abuse

In observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), many AAAs across the country held events to recognize this tragic problem, some tapping into their existing programs to spotlight elder abuse within their communities.   

The Area Agency on Aging, Region One in Phoenix, AZ has a long history of elder abuse work and uses WEAAD to help amplify their year-round work through an annual elder abuse awareness campaign. Through a direct mailing, ads in local newspapers, newsletters and radio interviews, AAA, Region One is able to reach at least 20,000 people. As this year's campaign focused on social isolation, it was important for the agency to not just hold community events, but to make an effort to reach older adults who are not as active and bring them into the community. Elder abuse coalition members put together 100 bags with educational materials, elder resource guides, notecards and water and brought them to at-risk older adults and those not near community centers. Mary Lynn Kasunic, President and CEO of AAA, Region One, found that involving local businesses and other stakeholders in the community within their elder abuse prevention coalition helps bring the message to a broader audience.
 
The Chautauqua County Office for the Aging in Mayville, NY recently received an expansion grant for a multidisciplinary team project, originally funded from the Administration for Community Living through the Lifespan Respite Care Act, to combat financial abuse in the region. The additional money is allowing the Office for the Aging to work with a number of new partners, such as banks and law enforcement, and gives them access to a forensic accountant and geriatric psychologist. The multidisciplinary team will meet monthly to review cases, which will include financial abuse, physical violence and intimidation. The Office for the Aging assisted the Department of Social Services to get posters out about WEAAD and about the new initiative, offering a place for older adults to call. Mary Ann Spanos, Director of the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging, encourages other AAAs to form multidisciplinary teams to combat elder abuse. 
 
Several more examples of excellent AAA-led elder justice initiatives will be released at our Annual Conference this July as part of the 2017 n4a Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards program and book, so stay tuned for additional ideas and inspiration from your peers!  
 

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