Story by: Selena Liu
The Alameda County Social Services Agency, or ACSSA, partnered with multiple elder abuse awareness organizations and offices to organize an awareness event at the Alameda County Fair on Saturday for Elder Abuse Awareness Month, according to a June 13 ACSSA press release.
According to the press release, during the event, the organizers educated the community about elder justice issues, advocated for seniors in long-term care facilities at their booth, and relaunched ACSSA’s public service announcement film “Don’t Worry Mom” as part of their campaign.
“The County Fair brings together approximately half a million people from across our diverse community each year — this is the perfect venue for a public awareness campaign like this one because we need everyone to get involved,” said ACSSA Director Lori Cox in the press release.
Among the organizations and offices involved were ACSSA, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office, Legal Assistance for Seniors, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, the Alameda County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office and the Advisory Commission on Aging, according to the press release.
According to Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, elders can be vulnerable to scammers and to financial and physical abuse. Through these events, awareness organizations educate the public about these issues.
“Elder abuse is an epidemic in the area these days, and more people need to be aware of it,” said Alicia Morales, director of ACSSA’s Division of Aging and Adult Protection. “Due to the issue being so closely interconnected with family members, it serves as a complicated matter. However, we have seen a rise in elder homelessness in recent years because of it.”
Randy Morris, assistant agency director for ACSSA’s Adult and Aging Services Department, stated in the press release that senior homelessness is a “growing statistic” as a result of financial exploitation and property theft. He added that catching cases of elder abuse early and subsequent ACSSA intervention could be able to prevent the issue.
Aside from holding the county fair event, the organizations involved have made additional efforts to spread awareness to the Alameda County community. According to Drenick, the district attorney’s office has used events at senior centers and other places where seniors gather to raise awareness and educate the community about reporting suspected elder abuse. The office also has a family justice center that is ready to offer help to elders who fall prey to victimization.
“The Alameda (district attorney’s) office is very involved in protecting the elder community within the county,” Drenick said. “We want to make multiple purposes as to educate the community, to offer assistance to the community and to let the community know where and how they can get help if they need it.”
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