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Fairfield Jewish Home plans elder abuse prevention program

By Cindy Mindell ~

FAIRFIELD – In 2006, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Since then, a growing number – now in the hundreds – of public and private organizations around the globe have become involved in the effort to bring to light the human-rights concern that is elder abuse.
Among those is the Coalition for Abuse Prevention of the Elderly (CAPE), a collaborative effort of more than 40 agencies and businesses in Greater Bridgeport working together to address elder abuse through advocacy, awareness, and professional training. The Jewish Home of Fairfield County is a member of CAPE and home to the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention, the first initiative of its kind in Connecticut and the second in the U.S. to serve frail elderly.
CAPE has held local observances of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day since 2008. This year, the collaborative created a video for the occasion, which will premiere at the Westport Center for Senior Activities on Thursday, June 14 at 3 p.m.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

The film, “Imagine a World without Elder Abuse: We All Play a Role,” features residents throughout the region, from children to seniors, talking about the issue. The video is sponsored by The Jewish Home of Fairfield County and The Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging.
CAPE members have been discussing the idea since October, says Laura Snow, program director for the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention. “We wanted to do something to mark the day in a way that involved local voices of all generations,” she says. The group expanded on an idea issued by the National Center on Elder Abuse, which suggested posting YouTube clips on the topic. A CAPE member enlisted his son, a high-school student in Stamford, to help create a film.
Participants of all ages came forward, in response to word of mouth, posts on the National Aging Network, and Snow’s personal visits to many senior centers in the area. Taping began in April.
“People have their grandchildren contribute to the film; the high-school student helping us has been interviewing his friends,” Snow says.
In the film, participants respond to three questions, tailored appropriately to younger interviewees. “We ask, how do you define elder abuse and what do you think of when you hear the term; are you concerned about elder abuse and is it a problem in your town; and what do you do and what can you do to prevent it?,” Snow says. “It’s been interesting to see that spectrum of opinions. People define elder abuse from physical mistreatment, to any time you infringe on someone’s rights to live as they want to.”
When asked whether elder abuse is a local concern, some interviewees indicate that it is not. “But the majority say, ‘I know it’s happening in my community,’” Snow says.
Many ideas for the prevention of elder abuse are expressed in the film, from children offering to visit their grandparents more often to professionals suggesting ways to become more aware and active on behalf of a senior friend or relative.
The screening will be followed by a group discussion on local elder-abuse experiences, resources, and prevention methods, including a victim of elder abuse who will share her family’s story. Professionals will be on hand to answer questions.

“Imagine a World without Elder Abuse: We All Play a Role” film debut and discussion: Thursday, June 14, 3 p.m., Westport Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Ave., Westport | Info: Laura Snow, Program Director for the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Jewish Home of Fairfield County, lsnow@jhe.org / (203) 365-6403

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