Local group bringing awareness to elder abuse

Jun. 14—TRI-COUNTY — One Tri-County organization is hoping to bring awareness to elder abuse in accordance with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations and is celebrated each year on June 15, which falls on Wednesday.

The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the globe to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse Awareness website.

Tri-County Abuse Council for Elders, or TRACE, is a local nonprofit organization made up of volunteers from throughout Laurel, Knox and Whitley Counties, including community representatives, those who work in social services, long-term care facilities and home health agencies, as well as those who work for organizations that service senior citizens.

"We provide information, education, awareness to other people like us, as far as service providers, professionals, business people and of course, our main focus being senior citizens," said Shawn Bingham, president of TRACE. "That's what our push is to educate them so that they are aware of those issues of elder abuse, how to prevent it or know what neglect is or to understand what exploitation is. Really, what a lot of it comes down to is social connectedness, just helping them understand the importance of that."

TRACE typically holds two events per year, including their annual Senior Health and Wellness Fair and a Christmas basket program for seniors.

On Wednesday, members of the TRACE Council will be holding balloon releases throughout the Tri-County to help raise awareness on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

"It's an issue that's worldwide," said Cathy Willis, secretary for TRACE. "It can happen anywhere and people would be surprised at what things are considered elder abuse; it's not just physical injury, it's misappropriation of funds or it's mental abuse."

"Sometimes families don't realize that their loved ones are going through this abuse," said April Goodin, member of TRACE. "You can hire a caregiver privately and they could be abusing the relationship with them and the families don't realize, so it's something to bring awareness to that this could happen. Be on the lookout and protect your loved ones because you just don't think about it being a reality."

Members of TRACE hope that the community will join them in observing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The TRACE Council is always looking for donations, as their organization runs solely on fundraising and community donations. TRACE meets the third Monday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Corbin Senior Citizens Center and encourages community members to come out and be apart of the council.

For more information or to find out how to donate, visit https://trace002.wixsite.com/trace or follow their Facebook page @TriCountyAbuseCouncilforEldersTRACE.