The region’s second annual elder abuse conference will be held on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

Wise County/Norton Commonwealth Attorney Chuck Slemp announced the date in a recent press release.

The Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society announced the conference plans on June 15, in commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Elder abuse is widespread. Every year an estimated one in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, according to the release. Experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported, in part because so many of our communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it. Research suggests that as few as one in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.

Older Americans are vital, contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. In addition to being a clear violation of the American commitment to justice for all, elder abuse is an issue with many consequences for our society. Its effects on our communities range from public health to economic issues. In a just society, all of us have a critical role to play to focus attention on elder justice.

“Elder abuse is a growing epidemic in our area that deserves the attention of law enforcement offices, financial institutions, healthcare facilities, local agencies and our community as a whole,” Slemp said. “The focus on elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation is a topic on the minds of many throughout Southwest Virginia, as the cases are often underreported and remain very difficult to prosecute for various reasons. Since taking office in 2016, my office has been working hard to forge partnerships with others throughout the community to address these crimes and strive to prevent instances of abuse. Together we continue to raise public awareness and create opportunities for the community to learn about what can be done to safeguard our most vulnerable citizens. We are proud that our vision for regional training on this topic has continued to remain a priority so that we may keep learning from nationally recognized experts in this field.”

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