Board proclaims June 25 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day at Multnomah County

June 26, 2015

Melissa Marrero from the District Attorney's Office and Tina Lewis, program supervisor for Multnomah County’s Adult Protective Services Unit address the board on Thursday.

Judges, law enforcement and the district attorney's office have joined forces with Multnomah County's Aging, Disability and Veterans' Services Division to protect the community’s most vulnerable citizens.

The Interagency Committee for Abuse Prevention for elders is leading a community effort to educate and train partners and community members to eliminate elder abuse.

“We believe that a coordinated community response to elder abuse is really the only way to go,” said Kathryn Tennyson , Chief Probate Judge for Multnomah County.

In honor of these efforts and to raise awareness, the Board of County Commissioners proclaimed June 25, 2015 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day at Multnomah County on Thursday.

“Elder abuse affects the physical, mental and financial health and safety of vulnerable elders in our community,” said Commissioner Judy Shiprack, who sponsored the proclamation along with Commissioner Loretta Smith

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, an estimated 5 million Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation every year. In addition, some studies indicate that as few as one in 23 cases is reported. 

“Unfortunately, nobody’s immune to abuse, neglect and exploitation,” said Commissioner Smith. “But African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, low income and socially isolated older adults are victimized at a very high rate.”

Commissioner Judy Shiprack applauded The Interagency Committee for Abuse Prevention and Multnomah County’s Aging, Disability and Veterans Services Division’s efforts to stop elder abuse.

The Multnomah County Adult Protective Services unit reports and investigates abuse, self-neglect and financial exploitation of seniors and people with disabilities. During the fiscal year 2013-2014, ADP handled 6,514 reports.

The issue is a continued priority for the country's Adult Protective Services team. Several programs have been implemented to support elders who suffer from abuse. The Financial Abuse Specialist Team investigates allegations of major financial exploitation, and the county’s Gatekeeper Program works alongside nontraditional referral sources -- like firefighters, police and mailman -- who often encounter seniors and people with disabilities during daily activities. 

“I want to recognize and affirm the daily efforts of the Multnomah County Department Human Services Adult Protective Services and the multidisciplinary partners that are working to protect our most vulnerable community members,” said Commissioner Smith. “So I really applaud your work and keep up the good work, thank you.”

Tina Lewis, program supervisor for the county’s Adult Protective Services to the board on Thursday that Multnomah County is the only county in the state to have dedicated adult protective services multidisciplinary teams that consist of nurses, mental health professionals and case managers assistance.

In addition, Lewis highlighted the county’s Adult Protective Services completion of more than 2,400 investigations during the fiscal year 2013-2014.

“As the elder of this board, I’m very appreciative of all the work that you do, and that you have the backs of our elders in our community,” said Commissioner Diane McKeel.

If you have concerns that someone may be suffering from elder abuse, call 503-988-4450.