The North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation seeks to combat abuse of senior citizens through our coordinating, training and educational meetings with law enforcement, regulators, affected businesses and public organizations. We further seek to address the financial, physical, emotional, sexual and institutional abuses of seniors.
Each year, an estimated 5 million– or one in 10– older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Experts believe that for every case of such abuse or neglect reported, as many as only one in 23.5 cases go unreported. In addition, elders throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually due to financial abuse. These are funds that could have been used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food and medical care.
The primary purpose of the Foundation is to help tackle this rising problem by helping foster collaboration among and between public and private agencies that deal with elder abuse, including, but not limited to, law enforcement, criminal justice, health services, first responders, senior services, regulators, and community organizations, as well as the public.
Creating public awareness and creating support in the corporate as well as private sectors of our state is the secondary purpose of the Foundation.
Additionally, the Foundation will broaden its reach through the creation and ongoing support for Elder Abuse Task Forces (referred to as EATFs) in various judicial circuits– with particular focus in North Georgia. We now have set up and facilitated six different smaller regional EATFs. They are organizations that provide coordination, education, and training to law enforcement and to public and private agencies on elder abuse in their regions.
This cooperative work has been greatly enhanced by the Task Force forming a working relationship with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA). We and our AAA partners are constant guests on various radio programs throughout North Georgia. We have conducted open meetings to the public on elder abuse issues. Overall, we have been an integral part in helping to educate both state and local leaders on the challenges of elder abuse and the need to educate the public and support our regulatory and law enforcement officials.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation has sent out notices in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, local and state law enforcement and the AAA to seniors regarding potential frauds and scams. It went to approximately 2,000 senior citizens in the Northwest Georgia 15-county area who have home delivered meals.
In North Georgia, the Task Force has conducted more than 40 coordinating and training seminars for over 750 Law Enforcement Officers and regulators,and has provided educational seminars for over 3,000 civilians relating to elder abuse issues. In addition to the training, the Foundation not only provides lunch for our law enforcement partners during the meetings and training sessions, but also the speakers and training materials for the numerous presentations to seniors throughout North Georgia.
These coordinating and training seminars will be continued in 2020, through the support of Foundation funding from corporate and individual sponsors.
Our initial coverage of the Task Force is north of a line from Columbus, Macon and Augusta. However, discussions for collaboration with strong successful programming throughout Georgia and neighboring states are part of a long-range strategy to create one of the strongest elder abuse programs in the country.
We are seeking to expand efforts with funding for 150 Scent Evidence Kits at $20.00 a unit to initiate a North Georgia program involving tracking dogs and obtaining a fresh scent. These kits help families locate missing seniors in cases where dementia or other ailments cause wandering. Time is if the essence with locating a missing individual and these kits aid K-9s and law enforcement and help to save valuable hours and resources.
The North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation is a separate vested 501 (c)3 tax-exempt organization and we look forward to partnering with individuals and organizations interested in helping to support us..
Kim Sherk is Vice President of the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation and Joe Gavalis is the Law Enforcement Coordinator for the Foundation.