Friday is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and across the
Panhandle senior citizens are learning the steps to recognize
and prevent this abuse.
Friday morning at St. Andrew's Tower in Panama City, local
organizations banded together to educate folks on how to
This was a unique opportunity for elders to learn valuable
information to preserve their quality of life.
"Elder abuse is often unreported and sometimes unrecognized. A lot of times the senior
feels embarrassed that something is happening, because often they are being abused by
someone they trust," said Courtney Peel, DCF Circuit 14 CDA
Research indicates that one in ten elders may experience some
type of abuse, but only one in five cases is actually reported.
DCF and organizations like Northwest Florida's Agency on
Aging are working to expose the signs of abuse and prevent it.
"Threatening an elder, taking away their money, or taking away their food, or limiting
their social activities is all considered abuse," said Lynn Dorvil of the NWF Area Agency
The statistics speak for themselves.
In 2011, nearly 3000 cases of elderly abuse were reported across
the panhandle. Of those, Bay County saw 659 cases, Jackson
County saw 283 and Walton County saw 141.
Seniors Wennie May Larry and Francis Herring say they now
know how to keep themselves and others safe from abuse.
"If someone is abused, I can go ahead and report it. If someone needs help, I need to be
there to help them. I learned a lot how to help them," said Larry.
"I feel so much (more) secure knowing all these things that society has out there to
protect us. It's beautiful," added Francis.
If you or someone you know might be a victim of elder abuse,
you're urged to call the Florida abuse hotline. That number is