VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Abuse of seniors can include neglect of various kinds and even financial exploitation.
“Currently, one in ten seniors is either going to be a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, “said Master Police Officer Allen Perry, Community Liaison for the Virginia Beach Police Department. “We want to keep that number as low as possible and avoid as much of that victimization of our seniors as we can, and if we can avoid that by education and outreach, then we will.”
The Virginia Beach Police Department offers a Senior Citizens’ Police Academy two to three times a year and is currently enrolling residents for the fall session.
In addition to learning about the various duties of police officers, during the academy, participants will also cover topics to help them stay safe. One thing investigators will discuss is prescription drug abuse.
“The fact that the high number of prescription drugs in a senior’s home may make them more likely to be a victim of a breaking and entering,” explained Perry.
Separately, the VBPD offers a personal safety and situational awareness training.
“We’ll do that in senior living facilities, nursing homes, retired worker groups, anybody who contacts us and asks us to come out and give that presentation,” Perry added. “It’s tailored specifically to seniors to give them some habits and ways of doing things that may make them a little less likely to be the victim of a crime.”
A few of those include:
- Park in the populated, well-lit areas of the parking lot
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages
- Make sure you lock your car
The Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia wants residents to know they offer a multitude of free and low-cost services to help those 60 years and older. Those include Meals on Wheels, I-Ride transportation to and from medical appointments, benefits counseling, and other home services.
“Most of our services are not based on income; they’re based on need,” said Colleen Downes, Community Services Manager for Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia. “Because our whole mission is to allow that senior to allow in their home with safety and dignity.”
During the COVID pandemic, some in-person services were put on hold; however, they still checked in with clients on the phone and hope to soon return to normal visits. Downes says they assess homes for safety and cleanliness as well as the physical and mental state of the client.
“Looking to see if their clothing is clean, if they’re still able to take care of their personal hygiene, if they have enough food to eat. Those are some of the things we look for,” Downes said.
Any senior needing assistance or anyone who’s concerned about an older person can call Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia at 757-461-9481 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They can also call a 24-hour hotline in which they could remain anonymous. The statewide number for adult protective services is 1-888-832-3858.
For more information on Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, click here.