Carnations symbol of protection for elders

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The Shawnee Alliance for Seniors helps abused senior citizens in 13 counties in Southern Illinois.

Older people often do not report abuse as they feel embarrassed or do not want to lose companionship, stop a service or deal with the consequences of saying no to family.

"Because it's underreported - and people don't know about it - this is an opportunity to tell other people that normally would not be aware, this happens and this is what you look for and this is how you can bring it to our attention", Trice said.

Abuse can be physical/sexual (e.g. hitting or inappropriate behaviour), emotional, verbal (e.g.name calling) or financial (e.g. taking money or property).

"They may even be physically or mentally incapable of communicating".

Mr Mahney said people who called the service could speak to one of their advocates and discuss issues and possible remedies. No community or country in the world is immune.

"Older people are afraid to say they are being abused", said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, speaking to UN News ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is marked annually on 15 June.

Dan Brummitt, Vance County Board of Commissioners chairman, delivered the greeting and proclamation at the event. "We need to investigate further to be able to conclusively prove the link, but our results coincide with long-term studies worldwide", said Dr Raudah Yunus, one of the researchers involved in the Prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect (Peace) study conducted in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan. An awareness program will be developed, as will protocol to reach more diverse communities and ease cases of isolation.

"From these preliminary findings, we see that the mortality rate is higher among elders who were abused".

"We have about 50 incidents of abuse reported to us each month but when you consider that one in 20 people experience it, that could be thousands of people", he said.

Legal Services Commission director Gabrielle Canny says the awareness push is aimed at preventing victims from missing out on support they need.

The Adult Protective Services division of the Department of Social Services will conduct investigations of allegations of abuse or neglect for a vulnerable adult - defined by the state as someone who can not mentally or physically take care of their own needs.

Now workers are left to navigate cases of abuse according to their individual ability and discretion, she said.

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