Elder abuse is a new focus of Anderson County and the Oak Ridge Police Department. The two agencies are preparing to jointly implement a Senior Citizens Awareness Network, or SCAN, program that will likely start later this year to deal with the crime.
District Attorney General David Clark of the Seventh Judicial District and his Anderson County office are leading the charge on combating elder abuse, and the office will be running the SCAN program, according to a press release. RPD will help implement the program in Oak Ridge.
Clark and ORPD Detective Wendy Zolkowski will speak Thursday, January 16, about the SCAN program, elder abuse in Oak Ridge, and the ways seniors can be protected.
Their talks will be the first in 2020 in the lecture series sponsored by Roane State Community College and the Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning. They will speak at 2 p.m. Thursday in the City Room (A-111) of the Coffey-McNally building on RSCC’s Oak Ridge Branch Campus, 701 Briarcliff Avenue. ORPD is hosting the presentation, which will be preceded by a reception with refreshments at 1:30 p.m. in the lobby.
Zolkowski has been tasked by ORPD to investigate local elder abuse cases and report them to Adult Protective Services, a division of the Tennessee Department of Human Services. She will also investigate referrals generated by APS, which investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of adults unable to protect themselves because of a physical or mental limitation.
Clark and Zolkowski will speak about crimes and scams that have targeted elders—people 65 years old and older—in Oak Ridge and Anderson County, as well as in the nation.
According to the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, one in 10 elderly people are reported as victims of elder abuse, which can reduce a victim’s lifespan. In the United States, five million elder abuse cases are reported each year. More than $36.5 billion are lost each year as a result of thefts by caregivers and family members, medical treatment costs, scams, and other types of financial exploitation.
“I will also speak on how Oak Ridge Police and Anderson County are working with our community to prevent elder abuse and how we as a community can assist our most vulnerable population,” Zolkowski said.
She noted that in the past law enforcement agencies overlooked elder abuse, regarding it as a family issue. Recent laws give elderly people a voice in how they should be treated. ORPD and Anderson County personnel have been trained to identify seniors at risk of being abused, to protect them, and treat them as dignified persons worthy of respect.
ORPD and the Anderson County District Attorney General’s Office will train volunteers to check on homebound seniors and educate them on how to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation. The local agencies may also get assistance from the successful and already up-and-running Knox County SCAN program.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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