A recent campaign to increase awareness about elder abuse is sparking discussions about the issue in Cambridge and Somerville.
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) recently distributed 500 awareness ribbons, which were attached to flyers with information about elder abuse and how to report it. Nathan Lamb, who is agency Director of Outreach & Community Relations, said those efforts have already had an impact.
“Last week I had one person call me directly, to ask if our agency could help them with a difficult situation,” said Lamb. “That’s not my area of expertise, so I referred them to Protective Services—but it was good to know that our efforts may have helped at least one person.”
The campaign centered on SCES partnering with other community groups to spread the message. Some 75 ribbons and flyers were provided for both the Cambridge and Somerville senior centers, with about 150 more distributed through the Cambridge Elder Abuse Prevention Coalition.
The awareness campaign was held in conjunction with World Elder Abuse Prevention Day, on June 15. The effort was initiated by Norah Al-Wetaid of SCES Elder Protective Services, which investigates reports of elder abuse in Somerville and Cambridge. She said raising awareness and distributing information are proactive ways to combat elder abuse.
“It is well known that one of the best ways to prevent and alleviate elder abuse is to raise awareness about the signs, symptoms and where to get help,” she said. “In Protective Services we often get involved after an incident happens, so this event was wonderful because it allowed us to be involved in direct prevention efforts.”
Lamb also thanked SCES outreach specialists Margarida Mendonca and Colleen Morrissey for producing the awareness materials, and SCES volunteers Nancy Murphy, Danielle Toppi, Adrienne Ficarra and Diane Martin for assembling the ribbons and flyers.
“It was a great effort that saw a lot of people pulling in the same direction,” said Lamb. “But at the end of the day, we’re just happy if it results in more people knowing how to identify elder abuse and report it to SCES Elder Protective Services.”
SCES Elder Protective Services can reached at 617-628-2601 during normal business houses and through the Elder Abuse Hotline (1-800-922-2275) at all other times.