Indiana Daily Student

Adult Protective Services raises awareness of elder abuse

Of the 39,848 calls for service made to Indiana Adult Protective Services in 2013, 10,000 cases were opened.

Forty-one full-time investigators work throughout the state to answer calls of guardianship and placement issues, questions of financial exploitation and more, said Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal, a member of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council Board of Directors.

Monroe County Adult Protective Services will have an open house 4 p.m. Thursday at the Showers Building, 501 N. Morton, Suite 215.

The open house will promote an upcoming statewide conference, “Respect Our Elders: Working Together to Stop Abuse,” a Sept. 18 event in Indianapolis.

IPAC will be providing funding for the event.

The goal of the event is to raise awareness regarding the needs of adults who cannot care for themselves and to increase APS resources in Monroe County.

“We don’t have adequate resources to meet the needs that are out there,” Gaal said. “We have two investigators. They spend a lot of their time out in the field, driving around, doing home visits.”

The APS program contracts with the local prosecutor’s office to provide the personnel and service for the state, according to the APS website.

According to the IPAC website, endangered adults are defined as individuals who are more than 18 years of age and are incapable of taking care of themselves for reasons of mental illness, mental retardation, dementia, or other mental or physical incapacity.

Despite the low number of investigators in Monroe County, Gaal said the office is ahead of the curve in terms of outreach and programming.

However, Unit 10, which is located in Monroe County, also serves Morgan and Owen counties.

“There’s a need for greater resources in this area, and that’s the reason why we’re pulling together this conference,” Gaal said.

The conference will feature both local and national speakers and will include a presentation “Investigation and Prosecution of Elder Abuse” by Paul Greenwood of the San Diego Prosecutor’s Office.

The presentation will allow police officers to receive continuing education credits, according to the release.

Gaal will also be leading a break-out session at the conference, “Preventing Abuse and Neglect: Community Approaches in Monroe County.”

There are more than 5.1 million people aged 65 or older with some type of dementia, and, of those, 50 percent experience some sort of abuse, according to statistics provided by Gaal.

Furthermore, about 90 percent of abusers are family members.

Gaal said he hopes to increase awareness of the needs of endangered adults in the community. He said he has already spoken to both local representatives and a senator about the topic.

“It’s something that I’m passionate about,” he said. “It’s got to be addressed.”

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