To raise awareness for elder abuse, the Elder Abuse Prevention Team will hold an awareness walk from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, May 17 in the empty lot across from Blue Ridge Golf Carts at 505 South Jefferson Ave, West Jefferson.
“We are trying to engage people about elder abuse awareness, and are encouraging people to report elder abuse,” said Randy Revis, a member of the Elder Abuse Prevention Team.
During a Tuesday planning meeting for the event, Revis said “at this point, it’s a total unknown how many folks will show up.”
Along with the awareness walk, the event will also feature a drug drop, where anyone can anonymously drop off medications for disposal. This provides a way for citizens to legally rid themselves of outdated medications with no questions asked.
Also, Shred South is scheduled to arrive from noon - 1 p.m. on Friday (possibly longer) to shred old documents for seniors; documents like old bank records or medical information.
There will also be different types of assistive devices available at the location, such as walkers, wheelchairs and canes, which demonstrate the challenges elderly people face when having to use those devices. Those will be provided by Forest Ridge Assisted Living and the Ashe County Department of Social Services.
Sensitivity kits will also be available for people to use to show various problems elderly people suffer from. Sensitivity kits will be provided by Julie Wiggins.
Snack foods, like fruit, cheese and crackers, will be offered at the event.
Friday’s awareness walk is part of a larger, renewed effort to reduce elder abuse in Ashe County.
During an Ashe County Board of Commissioners meeting on April 15, Linda Thompson, a member of the Elder Abuse Prevention Team, presented information to the BOC about elder abuse.
After her presentation, the BOC approved a proclamation establishing May 12 through June 16 as Vulnerable Adults and Elder Abuse Awareness Month, and also granted permission to display fliers that identify symptoms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Also, support groups for elder abuse are currently being offered at Forest Ridge Assisted Living and will soon be offered at Ashe Services for Aging.
At the end of the group’s Tuesday planning meeting, Ashe County Clerk of Courts Pam Barlow, a member of the Elder Abuse Prevention Team, said she attended an elder abuse conference in San Antonio, Texas, and was captivated by one of the speakers.
“One of the speakers was a DA from San Antonio, and she spoke about elder abuse,” said Barlow, “and I love Texas law.”
One of the issues the speaker raised during the conference was financial fraud, where Texas state law is much more punitive than other states.
“She said it does not matter in Texas whether its $5, $50 or $5,000, you are charged with a third-degree felony, and they prosecute like crazy,” said Barlow about the DA.
“Their laws on elder abuse are unreal,” said Barlow.
Elder abuse is the willful infliction of physical pain, injury, neglect, abandonment, deprivation of services, financial exploitation, and abuse of any kind.
According to the Elder Abuse Prevention Team, elder abuse happens every day in Ashe County, and it should be stopped.
Anyone can report suspected elder abuse or neglect to Adult Protective Services at 846-5719. Anyone who reports abuse is encouraged to provide as much information as possible, including the victim’s name, address, approximate age, caregiver and a description of why the adult may need help. All calls are confidential.