AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– May is older American’s month.

It recognizes the contributions of older adults across the nation and also raises awareness about elder abuse and neglect. The goal is to make sure resources are in place to protect our older population from the risks of abuse and neglect.

Kathleen Jones is with the Regional Commission CSRA Area Agency on Aging. She joined me recently to talk more about older Americans month and a special conference in June.

Kathy: “We want people to know that as life resumes and they’re back that the best thing they can do is remain involved. If they are isolated, they are at greater risk of harm without people knowing that they’re home alone. So we want them to be encouraged to explore things. We have our senior centers that are open again and activities are going on there. So we’re trying to let people know that they’re out there. They can certainly go and try something new whether it’s a craft or gardening or anything like that. But also to take place, maybe look at things like going to the library, reading books, volunteering anything that keeps them active and lets them explore life at a whole different level.”

Jennie: That is so important. And I know that was a very big concern in COVID was the isolation.

Kathy: “Absolutely. The interaction with people is something that can’t be replaced whether it’s with your grandchild or whomever it is, take time to really invest in that person and have them do the same for you.”

Jennie: Well now what is the conference that’s coming up in June?

Kathy: “We are very happy to be back in person with our 14th annual elder rights conference. And the theme this year is Empowering Generations to protect against elder abuse. One thing again, we found over this time period was that folks needed assistance to know how to interact sometimes. Without their proper information, and the best way to talk to grandparents and their relatives sometime we were missing the mark. So just being able to get that right. We are very fortunate this year to have a full schedule. We will be meeting on Thursday, June 16th and we have class sessions starting at about eight o’clock that morning, going straight through the day. We have a guest speaker coming in from DeKalb county the district attorney’s office, as well as local members of our own community. District Attorney both Bobby Christine, and Jared Williams. Will be presenting. We have a sexual assault professional, forensics staff that are coming to help us. So we are really excited about trying to see how can we improve what’s going on for our local folks.

Jennie: That is so important because the older folks are so often vulnerable to different scams and also to abuse, particularly with caregivers when there something may be going on and they’re afraid to say anything. There’re just a lot of intricacies involved in this.

Kathy: “Absolutely. And we would encourage folks in the community to just remember you don’t have the job of proving whether or not it’s real, but if it feels uncomfortable, please report it and let the professionals come in and try to determine what needs to be dealt with. Sometimes that’s if the banking information doesn’t appear correct? Let your banker know, ‘I don’t remember writing that check.'”

Jennie When someone has an issue, not just related to an abuse situation or fraud situation but if they need guidance with an older relative or something, are you the ones the area on agency to turn to?

Kathy: “Some of our calls are from people that are trying to think what do I do? My relative is getting older. They need some help in the home. And we just don’t know what. Sometimes we can talk through it at their leisure and determine do they need just a simple conversation occasionally and can help them stay on the straight path or do they need somebody coming in to provide home health, meals on wheels, a lot of different interventions that can help that person to maintain their independence as long as possible. So we would encourage them to use that resource routinely. We have a tremendous amount of staff on duty that can help us to walk through whatever the situation is and be sure we connect them with the correct folks for the response.”

The 14th annual elder rights conference is coming up Thursday, June 16th from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM at the Augusta Double Tree Hotel on Perimeter Parkway. For more information you can call 706-651-7341 or email Kathy at kjones@csrarc.ga.gov.