April 4, 2022
Contact: Ms. Ebony Thomas-Phillips, (225) 342-0144
Or H. Harper/C. Brylski (504) 897-6110 or (504) 289-0499
This is the time of year all major religions mark a season of random acts of kindness as a tribute of thanks for the gift of life, and one simple way to do that is by checking on those older adults who cannot protect themselves or are being threatened with harm by others, said Ebony Thomas-Phillips, Director, Louisiana Elderly Protective Service (EPS) Program.
Roughly 25 percent of the state’s population is over 60 years of age and expected to grow, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ms. Thomas-Phillips said on average more than 5000 elder abuse calls come to GOEA in a year, and the bulk are for self-neglect and caregiver neglect of individuals over age 60.
“It is important that we protect adults aged 60 years or older who are unable to protect themselves from being abused or neglected. Elders are abused in various ways: physically, sexually, emotionally, and financially. They can be neglected by caregivers or themselves,” said Ms. Thomas-Phillips.
Elder abuse can be physical acts of violence, emotional and verbal intimidation, isolation of an elder, sexual exploitation, withholding medicines, care or other daily necessities, or theft or misuse of the older adult’s money, property, or possessions.
“There is no greater service than to halt or interrupt acts of abuse and neglect against an elder adult,” said Ms. Thomas-Phillips. “Every person deserves their dignity and right to self-determination, no matter their age.”
The State of Louisiana allows anonymous reports about suspected abuse or neglect through the EPS Program Hotline, (833) 577-6532.
Ms. Thomas-Phillips said anyone can report suspected abuse anonymously and encourages caregivers, health professionals, neighbors, church members, bank tellers, families and friends of older adults to contact EPS so that such suspicions can be investigated and addressed. She especially encourages Louisiana citizens not living in major urban areas to help get the word out to their communities about EPS.
“To be an elder advocate all you need to do is report suspected abuse or neglect; you don't have to prove it," said Ms. Thomas-Phillips. “If you see bruises, black eyes, bed sores, dirty clothing, malnourished or unclean appearance, or notice the individual is living without electricity or needed medications, let our trained staff investigate and assign community services and resources to help this individual and ensure their safety.”
Visits to older adults increase during the holidays and give opportunities for friends and family to check on the older person’s status and make calls to EPS if needed. Just over 10 percent of all reports are high-priority cases, requiring immediate intervention, Ms. Thomas-Phillips said. Partnerships between the program and local law enforcement exist to assist in the stabilization of a situation and protecting the senior. “Less than one-tenth of one percent of all our calls do not meet the criteria for our services,” said Ms. Thomas-Phillips.
To report suspected abuse or neglect call this Free EPS Hotline: (833) 577-6532 or (225) 342-0144.