AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– In this extremely hot weather, we have protocols in place to protect children and pets that are left in hot cars.

But have you ever wondered if it is illegal to leave a senior citizen alone in a hot car???

That was one of many questions addressed Thursday (June 16) at the 14th Annual Elder Rights Conference in Augusta, hosted by the Regional Commission CRSA Area Agency on Aging.

Some 300 people attended the event, which helped raise awareness about abuse, exploitation, and neglect of one of our most vulnerable populations.

Many vendors and experts were on hand… including the FBI, GBI, advocacy groups and District Attorneys from the Toombs, Augusta, and Columbia Judicial Circuits of Georgia.

The keynote speaker was Jeanne Canavan, who runs the CAEPAD (Crimes Against Elder Persons and Adults with Disabilities) Unit at the Dekalb County, GA District Attorney’s Office.

Other speakers included Mark Fellows, a financial forensic specialist with the GA Dept. of Human Services, and Shawanda Wright, a forensic liaison specialist who is working with the GBI’s Crimes Against Disabled Adults and Elder Task Force.

Columbia Judicial Circuit Of Georgia Asst. District Attorney, Natalie Paine, says it’s important to notify law enforcement if you believe a friend or loved one is being abused.

She said events like today’s conference are valuable because people can learn more about the resources available here in the Augusta area.

“Let them know that we are here for them because it is a growing population and also a very vulnerable population. I think as a community we owe it to our older generation to make sure that they are supported and they have the resources that they need.”

Two women were recognized for special awards they received at the Aging Disability Resource Connections state conference, also taking place Thursday.

Betsy Teasley, from the CSRA Area on Aging, was given the Arneshia Norman Award for bringing health & wellness programs to the CSRA.

Burke County Senior Center Director, Kimberely Ivy-Mathis, was named Senior Center Director of the Year.

WJBF’s Jennie Montgomery emceed part of today’s conference.