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7:58 PM Mon, Dec. 10th

Coalition aims to train people in spotting signs of elder abuse

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. How many of us know what elder abuse is?

According to the Prevent Elder Abuse Coalition, elder abuse refers to any "intentional of negligent act that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable elder. Broadly defined, abuse may include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and neglect and abandonment.

The coalition is dedicated to eliminating elder abuse through prevention, education and intervention in a collaborative community effort.

PEAC member Ski Cahall said the coalition started in 1998 as a task force, which provided training to caregivers and first responders. A grant from the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse resulted in the creation of a strategic plan.

The task force became a coalition of more than 60 members from private business, government agencies and community volunteers dedicated to elder abuse issues in the Yavapai County area.

Cahall said, "Today there is a huge problem with financial abuse. We need to train law enforcement that maybe this is not a civil matter but a criminal one."

PEAC is not a service provider. Instead, it is a resource for anyone seeking more information about preventing elder abuse. Cahall said PEAC has a number of speakers available to talk to local groups.

Locally, elder abuse issues center around self-neglect and caregiver neglect. In cases of financial abuse, Cahall said the abuse might start innocently enough. She said the caregiver may access an elder's checking account to pay a single bill and once they realize how easy it is, they continue to dip into the elder's accounts.

PEAC will present "The Many Faces of Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation" a workshop for caregivers from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Cornerstone Church, 700 W. Rosser. The $30 fee includes lunch.

Call 778-4837 or email mountainadm@hotmail.com to register. For more information, visit www.peacaz.org or call 776-7871.