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Marengo County DHR hosting Elder Abuse, Health Fair

Marengo County Department of Human Resources will host an Elder Abuse and Awareness Health Fair on Thursday at the Linden Baptist Church fellowship hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees will learn various ways to identify and prevent elder abuse.

The fair will consist of several 15-minute sessions on various topics such as self-defense, financial awareness, alternative care, long-term care and living will, hazardous housing, dangerous abuse look-alikes and general information on abuse.

“The reason that we promote this is because sometimes that population of people can be forgotten,” said Dawn Hewitt, service supervisor with Marengo County DHR.

The sessions are designed to make attendees “aware that people are out there to exploit and take advantage of you” as well as preventative measures and what to do when faced with such abuse.

The Area Agency on Aging will also host a session to describe several programs that the organization offers such as prescription or sitter services.

This health fair stems from the frequency of elder abuse cases that goes through Marengo County DHR.

“Really it seems like every year our number of investigations that we complete here increases,” Hewitt said.

During the health fair, attendees will learn how to identify abuse, even if it comes from family members, which Hewitt said is more likely to be overlooked.

Abuse from family members or loved ones may be range from financial exploitation to neglect or worse. Examples of abuse from family members that Hewitt has seen includes overpayment for simple favors or refusing to meet the elder’s needs.

“It’s like they really don’t step up to provide care for them either,” Hewitt said.

Various forms of neglect that elderly people may face include environmental, medical, emotional, phycological and physical neglect. Forms of abuse that they may face include physical, emotional and sexual.

Hewitt said that individuals checking in on elderly neighbors and paying attention to their behavior and mental well-being can help prevent neglect, exploitation and abuse.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, June 20 issue of the Demopolis Times.)