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Monday, June 27, 2011 - 7:08am

New Program Targets Elder Abuse

A new state program is helping Georgia’s first responders learn to recognize signs of elder abuse.

The At-risk Adult Crime Tactics or ACT program teaches public safety officials, healthcare workers and legal professionals to identify victims and make sure offenders are prosecuted. 

Elder abuse affects many Georgia senior citizens each year, but largely goes unreported and unpunished. 

Pat King with the Department of Human Services helped design the curriculum. She says the program is needed to protect Georgia’s two and a half million at-risk adults from abuse.

"That’s a quarter of the population and yet we really don’t think that population is being represented as well as they could be within the justice system."

King says elder abuse isn’t always physical. It can include things like family members stealing money from aging relatives in their care.

"You have your nest egg and your grandson moves in with you and gets you to put them on your account under the premise of helping you with your bills but in actuality they pretty much drain your account and now you’re left destitute. It’s pretty devastating for seniors."

King says some signs of abuse include things like untreated injuries or sudden changes in legal documents such as power of attorney. 

The 2-day course has been making its way across the state since April.

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