The Department of Social Services planted 85 pinwheels which represents the number of protected persons Rockingham County holds under guardianship.
Wentworth, NC ( June 20, 2022) – Rockingham County Department of Health and Human Services recognizes that older people are vital, contributing members of Rockingham County and their maltreatment affects all of us. Just as we have confronted and addressed the social issues of child abuse and domestic violence, so too can we find solutions to address issues like elder abuse, which also threatens the well-being of our community.
Between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, Rockingham County Department of Health and Human Service, Division of Social Services received 594 reports alleging abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult. Of these reports, 52% of these reports were confirmed, meaning that these reports were found to be in need of services. When looking at counties across the state of similar size to Rockingham County, our county is above average for the number of substantiated reports.
It is difficult for older people to stay involved with and connected to their communities as they age. As a result, older people are more likely to experience social isolation, which increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect. This is even more specifically true now during these difficult times as Covid-19 has created even more challenges for our aging population and those that serve them. As a community, we can design stronger societal supports to keep our older people connected and protect them from financial, emotional, physical or sexual abuse. When we address a root cause, like social isolation, we also make it less likely that people will neglect themselves (self-neglect). Older adults who are socially connected and protected from harm are less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to go into nursing homes and more likely to live longer. We can and must create healthier and safer living environments for older adults, whether it is their homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
There are many ways to get involved in strengthening our communities and preventing elder abuse:
> It is up to everyone to prevent and address elder abuse. Talk about it – to your leaders, and to your neighbors.
-Advocate for elder abuse prevention and intervention programs.
-Raise public awareness by conducting presentations and distributing materials about elder abuse at senior centers, places of worship, physician offices, etc.
-Educate yourself and enable others to better recognize the warning signs
> Lend strength to existing social support structures
-Be a friendly visitor to an older person living in the community
-Provide support for someone who is a caregiver
-Don’t tolerate ageism – this begins with not discriminating against older adults
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On that day, communities across the United States and all over the world will sponsor events to highlight solutions to this systemic social challenge. Rockingham County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services hosted a pinwheel ceremony to participate in this national conversation. This year, the department planted 85 pinwheels which represents the number of protected persons that Rockingham County holds under guardianship.