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Alabama nonprofit working to raise awareness, prevent elder abuse

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Senior citizens in Alabama will have the opportunity to receive a free meal and utilize resources this weekend. Render Aid Alabama is hosting its second annual Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Cullman on Saturday, June 15 with ways to recognize this type of abuse and how to help prevent it.

An elder in the state of Alabama is recognized as someone 60 and up. More than 11,000 reports of elder abuse in 2021 with 67% categorized as neglect, according to the Alabama Adult Protective Services. Elder abuse can be physical, psychological, verbal and financial.

The first 300 seniors in attendance to Saturday’s event will receive a free meal of catfish, chicken fingers, chips and a drink. Door prizes will be given out.

Candie Cummings is the founder of Render Aid Alabama. She said a lot of people don’t realize they are a victim of abuse.

“Abuse this day and age is so much different than just the physical aspects of it. Exploitation is really big right now. Since COVID, the numbers are 300% more than it was pre COVID,” Cummings said.

Render Aid Alabama’s mission is to highlight and host events that bring awareness and prevention to situations such as domestic violence, suicide and elder abuse. Cummings said this topic is important to highlight because it hits close to home.

“My dad was a victim of elder abuse. So, we're just trying to make sure that as many people as we can touch… and help them get resources so that they don't become a victim,” Cummings said.

Organizers of the second annual Elder Abuse Awareness Day say there will be various speakers from local and state agencies to offer guidance and advice on warning signs.

“We will have someone from Cullman’s Sheriff's Office, and they will be touching base on the Yellow Dot Program as well as Project Lifesaver. That is where people that may have dementia can stay home and if they get away from their house, they're able find them,” Cummings said.

According to American Bar Association, these are signs of elder abuse to look into:

· Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.

· Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unexpected depression may be an indicator of emotional abuse.

· Bruises around the breasts or genital area may be a sign of sexual abuse.

· Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.

· Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss may indicate neglect.

· Belittling, threats, or other uses of power by spouses, family members or others may indicate verbal or emotional abuse.

· Strained or tense relationships and frequent arguments between the caregiver and person with disease may be a sign of abuse.

The best advice Cummings recommends is staying aware.

“Just really check in with your elders, and just make sure that they know that people do care and just kind of look out for each other,” Cummings said.

The Elder Abuse Awareness event is from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at The Lodge at Stonebridge Farms in Cullman on Saturday, June 15.

Jolencia Jones is a graduate assistant at Alabama Public Radio. She joined APR in 2022. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor's degree in public relations. Over the past year, Jolencia has written a range of stories covering events throughout the state. When she's not working at APR, she's writing for 1956 Magazine and The Crimson White.

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