Dare County Department of Health & Human Services recognizes Elder Abuse Awareness Month

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month and the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services’ Social Services Division would like to encourage residents to work together to protect older adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“Our residents deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from abuse, neglect and exploitation,” said DHHS Adult Services Supervisor Beth Bradley. “Elder Abuse Awareness Month provides us with an important opportunity to educate the public about the signs of abuse as well as the resources available to support our older adults.”

Each year in the United States, more than two million vulnerable and older adults are victims of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation. An under-recognized problem with devastating and even life-threatening consequences, experts estimate that only 1 in 5 cases of elder abuse are reported. Such abuse can include physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse as well as neglect and self-neglect.

Protecting older adults is a community responsibility and under North Carolina law, citizens are required to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation to their local county Social Services Division. This law affects adults, regardless of their living situation, who are incapacitated or disabled due to mental or physical abilities.

For more information on what constitutes abuse, neglect and exploitation under North Carolina law, please click here.

If you suspect abuse or neglect of a disabled adult, make a report to DHHS’s Social Services Division by calling 252.475.5500. Please have the name and address of the disabled adult, their age and the extent of injury or condition that has resulted from the abuse or neglect. In addition, please be prepared to provide the caretaker’s name and address as well as any other pertinent information. It’s important to know that anyone who reports suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of a disabled adult has immunity from any civil or criminal liability that may arise after the report is made (unless there was an act of malice or bad faith).

For additional information, please call our Social Services Division at 252-475-5500.