By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is reminding all citizens of Richland County that June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month and that all should be increasingly mindful of elder abuse: What elder abuse is, what the symptoms are, what the warning signs are, and why the elderly, as a group, have unique vulnerabilities and susceptibilities to all forms of abuse.

Elder abuse, essentially the abuse, mistreatment and neglect of aged or aging people is often concealed by the most-clever abusers. It is far too often unreported by the abused victims, for a variety of reasons.

“Seniors, in my estimation, are the heart of our community,” said Lott. “And we, both as law enforcement officers and the general public, must strengthen our resolve and commitment to preventing and eliminating the abuse of our elderly citizens; all of whom deserve to be loved, comforted, shielded from fear, and protected from harm.”

In 2018, Lott established the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s (RCSD) Elder Abuse Awareness Team as a means of creating greater public awareness. The Elder Abuse Awareness Team is not an investigative arm of RCSD. Investigating crimes of elder abuse fall under the department’s Criminal Investigation Division. The Elder Abuse Awareness Team is simply another means by which Lott seeks to eradicate the scourge of elder abuse and to protect society’s most vulnerable albeit most treasured, he says.

“I am encouraged to see that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department has established an Elder Abuse Awareness Team,” said Director Connie Munn, South Carolina Department on Aging. “Elder Abuse is a very real threat to so many of the most vulnerable members of our society. And it is something that my staff and I through the efforts of the Dept. on Aging take very seriously. We have to protect our elderly. As it has often been said, the elderly are one of our most precious living resources.”

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15. And RCSD will be publishing additional information about elder abuse over the next few weeks.

For more information about RCSD’s Elder Abuse Awareness Team and about elder abuse visit http://www.rcsd.net/prog/elder_team.htm.