Tennessee Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 | 2:34pm

The Tennessee Department of Human Services encouraged Tennesseans to recognize the signs of elder abuse and to take action 

NASHVILLE –The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) joined in the recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.  TDHS and the Adult Protective Services (APS) division, along with several other state departments, agencies and councils are using the month of June to raise awareness and to recognize the signs of elder abuse.

Governor Haslam proclaimed June 15th as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Tennessee and the State Capitol Cupola was illuminated in purple which is the official color of elder abuse awareness.

“APS is a different type of 911. It is likely difficult for most to truly understand the nature and the gravity of the decisions that are made every day in the interest of those we are privileged to serve. This work is by no means an exact science. We are charged with creating the delicate, but important balance of protecting those we serve while also honoring and respecting the autonomy they deserve,” TDHS Commissioner Dr. Raquel Hatter said. “We are all gatekeepers in this effort. Thank you to all Tennessee gatekeepers who add their strength to protect Tennessee’s elderly.”

TDHS and Tennessee State University (TSU) highlighted Elder Abuse Awareness Day as part of the 2016 College of Public Service Center on Aging Research & Education Services (CARES) Symposium which focused on promoting excellence in service delivery to Tennessee’s aging citizens. For more than 20 years TDHS and TSU have worked in partnership on a yearly forum that brings together professionals, experts, and trainers focused on addressing the challenges faced by aging adults. It allows them the opportunity to enhance job skills, exchange ideas with other professionals and elevate public awareness of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of aging adults.

“We are delighted that our CARES Institute within The College of Public Service at TSU continues our collaborative efforts with TDHS to enhance world class services to the elderly in Tennessee. Our work is focused on exploring better understanding of the needs of the elderly and developing practical solutions based on research,” TSU College of Public Service Dean Dr. Michael Harris said. “WEAAD provides us an opportunity to draw attention through the symposium on this key challenge. It is only by working together that we will assure quality of life to the elderly in Tennessee.”

This year’s event featured a special presentation on elder abuse awareness, panel discussions on integrated service delivery, and an opportunity for communities to better understand the needs of their aging populations. The symposium was attended by professionals who serve the aging community across the state including leadership and staff from the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, and the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

TDHS Commissioner, Dr. Raquel Hatter, presented the Inaugural APS Gate Keeper Award to Renee Bouchillon. Renee is the Director of the Adult Protective Services Division for TDHS and has served in the area of protection for over 20 years.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director, Mark Gwyn, served as a special keynote speaker.

“Without great partnerships with other agencies we will not meet our mission of serving the innocent and ensuring the guilty will not escape. Our partnership with the Department of Human Services has been great and anything you ask or need, they are definitely willing to work with us to get it,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. He added, “Commissioner Hatter and I both agree, there is no greater responsibility than to protect the elderly and vulnerable that cannot protect themselves.”

State Rep. Harold Love Jr. also attended the symposium and offered remarks on the importance of protecting our aging population in Tennessee.

“I was taught by my parents to believe that a loving society will protect and support our elders because they have given so much of themselves to us. If we don't protect them, what does it say about our hearts?” Rep. Love, D-Nashville said.

TDHS encourages Tennesseans to know the signs of abuse and to report suspected mistreatment. Signs of abuse might include:

  • Bruising, especially on the torso or head
  • Frequent injuries with the excuse of “accidents”
  • Threatening, belittling or controlling behavior by the caregiver that you see
  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
  • Unsanitary and/or unsafe living conditions: bugs, soiled bedding and clothes, no heat or running water
  • Sudden changes in vulnerable adults financial condition

How can you report suspected abuse?

Call toll free 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366). Or, report suspected abuse online at a secure website: https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/  

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services and Adult Protective Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.   

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Contact: Devin Stone
Office: 615-313-5786

Human Services