EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County receives nearly 250 calls a month regarding elder abuse, and officials expect that number to rise.
June 15 is Oregon Elder Abuse Awareness Day. And in support of the day, county officials and volunteers will gather at Lane Community College on Tuesday for the Second Annual Elder Abuse Summit in an effort to educate, prevent and stop such abuse from happening.
“America is the in the midst of a gray tsunami,” said Adult Protective Services (APS) Program Supervisor Becky Strickland
According to APS, people over 85 are the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States.
“That particular population of people is most vulnerable to abuse and that can be physical abuse, neglect of care or financial exploitation,” said Strickland.
The list went on.
“It could be verbal and emotional abuse. It could be abandonment. It could be restraints,” Strickland said.
Last year, in Lane County APS received 2,600 calls on allegations of elder abuse. They are already close to exceeding that number this year.
“There are also new tools for perpetrators to use on elders. You know with the Internet, you can go online and take someone’s identity,” said State Representative Val Hoyle.
State Representatives Val Hoyle and Vic Gilliam realized the need for more resources to protect the eldery and championed a bill this past legislative session to give police access to health care and financial records when investigating elder abuse.
It is their hope that bringing awareness to the issue will bring those numbers down as well as bring peace to the victims.
“At the end, there’s this great feeling of that things are finally gonna change, that things are gonna be different,” said APS Specialist Chris Rosin of victims he has worked with.
“The sign of a great culture and a great community is that we look after those who can’t look after themselves. We look after those who’ve been there for us. I feel like now that they’re at a point in their lives where they’ve given so much and taken care of us, it’s our job to give them a hand and take care of them,” Hoyle said.
Rosin said that when they get a case, they often find that the abuse has been going on for quite some time.
They hope Tuesday’s conference will bring greater attention to what the signs of abuse are as well as what resources are available.