AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Kathleen Ernce is the executive director of the Senior Citizens Council. For more than 30 years she’s been one of Augusta’s leading authorities on senior issues, including assistance, community resources, counseling, education on Medicare, elder rights, fraud prevention, and much more.

“Education of the older adult is so important, that they know, first of all, elder abuse is a crime. And that’s why we had the Elder Rights Conference a few weeks ago to identify exactly what’s going on with our seniors. And to let them know there are resources that are available to help them safely stay where they are, but in an environment where it is safe.”

One of the most interesting questions raised at that Elder Rights Conference June 16th was this: we have protocols in place to protect children, to protect pets that are left in hot cars, but have you ever wondered if it’s illegal to leave a senior citizen alone in a hot car?

“And that is an abuse, that is neglect. Individuals just need to know that there are resources that are available to help individuals who are in this situation. If they can get to a phone and call 911, tell the police what’s going on, surely the police would come and begin an investigation. The fear of, ‘I don’t wanna go into a nursing home,’ is in the backside of a lot of individuals minds. And sometimes that’s a fear, you know, worse than death. But actually nursing homes, assisted living facilities, they are there to protect the individual, to give them another option of safety, especially in this type of situation, where they have been neglected.”

The Senior Citizens Council is here to help. They can be an advocate when someone can’t advocate for yourselves.

“Call us, let us know what’s going on. 706-868-0120 I will be probably the one that comes out to do the investigation, just to get some information down, so that we can accurately refer you to whatever agency or whatever resource is available that can help you safely stay where you are, if that’s what you want to do or to assist you in going into a safer environment. It’s just another set of eyes and ears to say, Hey, you’re not in this alone. I’m here to help you.”

For more information, contact Kathleen Ernce at the Senior Citizens Council: 706-868-0120