As Elder Abuse Awareness Month is observed in June, Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell encourages all citizens to celebrate the lives and the value of Enterprise seniors.
Boswell signed a proclamation Tuesday declaring Elder Abuse Awareness Month. He thanked the Coffee County Department of Human Resources personnel who seek to prevent elderly abuse.
“We respect and treasure our senior citizens,” Boswell said. “They’ve worked a lifetime, raised families, and they’ve supported their communities and this nation with their time, their money and their service.”
Boswell said senior citizens of this community and around the world pave the way for the next generations.
“It is our collective responsibility to help make sure they live safely and with dignity,” he said.
Boswell said it is disturbing to know that in 2013 alone, the Alabama DHR received more than 6,000 reports of adult abuse, neglect or exploitation.
DHR officials have reported that the number is a 10-percent increase over the previous year. DHR provides protective services to more than 1,500 vulnerable adults each month and works together with law enforcement officials regularly to help keep the elderly adult population safe.
Deana Stinson, DHR Director, Laura Coggins, DHR Service Supervisor and Suezette Hatten, Adult Service Worker, were on hand for the proclamation signing Tuesday. They expressed their appreciation for the support of the city, especially this month and on June 15, when the nation marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Stinson, Coggins and Hatten said that unfortunately, Coffee County has also experienced a rise in elderly mistreatment cases, especially in the category of financial exploitation.
Stinson said Coffee County DHR and local law enforcement officers work in partnership with the Circuit and Probate courts, along with a myriad of committed community partners to ensure the safety and well-being of elderly persons in Enterprise and Coffee County. Among those local officials with whom they work on a regular basis are Circuit Judge Thomas E. Head III and Enterprise Police Department Capt. Jeff Spence. Both gentlemen attended the proclamation signing in support of awareness and prevention of elder abuse.
Coggins reminded that purple is the color nationally recognized to represent elder abuse awareness. She said everyone can show their support for elder abuse prevention by wearing purple, putting purple ribbons on their business doors or displaying purple in some other way.
DHR leaders said abuse is gravely under-reported and asked anyone who suspects mistreatment of an elderly person or an adult person who has disabilities, to call Coffee County DHR at (334) 348-2000. Citizens can make a real difference in the life of a vulnerable adult by recognizing signs of maltreatment and taking action by reporting abuse.
Reports may also be made toll free to the Adult Abuse Hotline 1-800-458-7214 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All reports are confidential and may be made anonymously.