It’s a problem affecting our senior populations: elder abuse.
And it’s an issue Pueblo County is tackling.
The Adult Protective Services unit investigates more than a thousand cases a year and every day, calls reporting elder abuse come in to Pueblo County Social Services.
"We get on average, like 11 new reports a day," said Karina Carcellero, a supervisor at the Adult Protection unit.
The department says with the aging population, they’re seeing more cases each year.
"There’s a lot more going on in the world as far as like, exploitation and there’s need for knowledge about resources for our seniors," said Irene Bucciarelli, a case aid who helps manage these cases.
"These seniors need to know there’s help if they need it."
Caseworkers with adult protection services handle three kinds of cases, which they say we should all keep an eye out for:
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Abuse at the hands of a caretaker
- Exploitation (whether it be for financial or another kind of gain)
Through community outreach and education efforts, employees say Pueblo residents feel more empowered to identify the abuse and call it in.
"This is something that people don’t normally talk about," added Carcellero.
"But we want that conversation to be happening."
Despite the busy phone lines, caseworkers worry about those who hesitate to dial in.
That’s why they want to make it clear they’re not there to rip seniors away from their homes
"A lot of the seniors are afraid of adult protection because they think we’re going to come and take them away from their homes," said Bucciarelli.
"And that’s not – our – our caseworkers try to do everything they possibly can to keep them happy and in their homes."
"We’re there to hopefully keep them in their homes for as long as they want," noted Russell Guerrero, Director of Adult Programs at Pueblo County Department of Social Services.
In honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Friday, A.P.S is holding an event at Pueblo Mall, where county organizations will explain how to handle cases of abuse.
The event aims to show seniors the resources available to them.
"We need to respect them," said Bucciarelli.
"We need to take care of them and that’s what we’re here to do."
The event will be taking place on Friday from 11a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you or someone you know are experiencing elder abuse, the hotline number to report it is 719-583-6853.