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State observed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15
Special to the News
As the state’s population ages, the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) is seeking adult foster homes to help protect and care for vulnerable adults at risk for mistreatment.
Adult foster care enables at-risk elderly and disabled adults to stay in homes instead of institutional settings when relocation is necessary to keep them safe.
More than 600 vulnerable adults in Alabama are placed somewhere other than their own homes because of a high risk for abuse, neglect and exploitation. Many require the services of facilities like nursing homes, but some are better suited for homes within their communities.
To serve those individuals, DHR hopes to recruit at least one adult foster home in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. The state currently has 21 adult foster homes.
“Having more adult foster homes will promote greater independence and a better quality of life for vulnerable adults who require minimal care,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “We encourage Alabamians with space in their homes to give adult foster care a try and experience the life-changing rewards firsthand.”
This program serves adults who can live safely in a home environment, but need help or supervision with daily activities. Most have been victimized by family members or caregivers in the past.
Valinda Young, an adult foster care provider in Enterprise, said watching the growth of the adults in her care has been the highlight of her two years in the program.
“Since the ladies arrived in my home, they all have shown dramatic improvement,” Young said. “All had been very much at risk for abuse and neglect before, but they do not have to worry about that anymore. We all work together and support each other like one big family.”
Nearly 18% of Alabamians are 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The elderly population has continued to expand in recent years, running parallel to increasing reports of adult abuse, neglect and exploitation.
DHR’s Adult Protective Services Division received 12,033 reports statewide in fiscal year 2022, an increase of nearly 115% in the past 10 years. Gov. Kay Ivey proclaimed June 15, 2023, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Alabama to raise awareness about the problem.
Those interested in becoming adult foster care providers are encouraged to contact a county DHR office. The Coosa County office can be reached at 256-377-2000. More information, including eligibility requirements, is available at dhr.alabama.gov/AFC.
DHR also reminds the public to report suspected adult abuse, neglect and exploitation by calling the Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-458-7214, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or contacting a county DHR office.
Warning signs include:
- Increased fear or anxiety
- Isolation from friends or family
- Withdrawal from normal activities
- Unusual changes in behavior or sleep
- Unexplained injuries, bruises, cuts, or sores
- Unsanitary living conditions and poor hygiene
- Unusual or sudden changes in financial spending patterns, wills or other important documents