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Combatting Elder Abuse Remains A Priority During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tennessee taking special steps to protect older adults while investigating cases of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation
Friday, June 12, 2020 | 12:09pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is taking a number of important precautions this year as the state recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The COVID-19 pandemic has created new dangers for older Tennesseans who are considered more at risk for severe health complications from the disease.

To help protect the elderly, the TDHS Adult Protective Services (APS) program has implemented several changes while conducting investigations into allegations of abuse, neglect (including self- neglect), and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults including:

·         Conducting home visits from outside the home when possible and talking to clients through the door or window.

·         Using video apps to be able to safely see and communicate with clients in nursing homes.

·         Utilizing two dry erase boards in one case so that a deaf client could communicate with staff without having to pass a notebook back and forth.

“Tennessee’s seniors need our support now more than ever when facing abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “Our Adult Protective Services program has come up with innovative ways to provide that assistance and collaborate with our partner organizations to help protect vulnerable adults and build a thriving Tennessee.”

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization established WEAAD in 2006 to raise awareness about the problem. In recognition, the State Capitol cupola will be lit in the official WEAD color purple on June 12 and the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge will be lit purple on June 13.

In 2016, APS led the creation of a Coordinated Community Response (CCR) with 20 other government and non-profit agencies that play a role in responding to elder abuse. The goal was  to improve communications, streamline investigations, and reduce the number of abusive unlicensed facilities. That CCR remains active today serving Tennessee’s vulnerable adults.

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at