The elderly population is increasingly the victim of scams, along with mental, emotional, and even physical abuse. But one local group is dedicated to helping seniors through advocacy and being a vital resource for information.
The Tri-County Abuse Council for Elderly Persons (TRACE) was formed in 2009 to help face the changing reality local senior citizens are facing.
Shawn Bingham, President of the organization, said the group works hard to provide information resources to elders and provide intervention in cases of elder abuse and maltreatment.
“That’s kind of what we do. It’s education and resource based,” Bingham said.
“A lot of what goes on doesn’t get as much publicity, or is stuff not being advertised that much, like emotional or mental abuse,” Bingham added. “That happens pretty commonly. The physical abuse happens as well, but it is not as prevalent as the emotional or mental side of it.”
Bingham said, oftentimes, abuse occurs simply because of living situations, or finances — factors that put stress on potential caregivers.
“Housing is such a big issue,” Bingham said. “As the economy gets a little tougher and tighter, then you get into these living situations where you have doubled up housing … four or five people living in a home.”
It’s also an issue when elders can’t get out into the community and socialize, are not very connected or don’t have a lot of family members still alive. Other “unsavory” folks become aware of that and often see a chance to take advantage of them.
Bingham said TRACE has developed several initiatives to combat the problem.
TRACE works diligently to provide local service providers with information. The group also has a holiday gift basket program where a chosen elder from a family in Knox, Laurel and Whitley Counties receives a basket full of donated items for Christmas (food, clothing, gifts, etc.).
“The community usually provides pretty good donations for that,” Bingham said. “It helps our families that have kind of been through a rough period.”
The baskets are always distributed on the weekend before Christmas.
One of its biggest efforts is the organization of an annual help and awareness fair. It was held for two years at Grace on the Hill United Methodist Church, and this past year at Central Baptist Church in Corbin. Over 20 vendors fill the gymnasium at the church, all providing useful information for seniors. Featured speakers give informative lectures on topics such as health insurance and health related issues, how to identify and avoid scams, better money management, available adult protective services, and so on. About 150 seniors participate in the event.
“It’s great. It doesn’t cost them anything besides their time and travel expense,” Bingham said. “It basically links them up with the local aging service providers to where they can develop a relationship. It’s been really successful so far. We’ve had a really good turnout for it.”
TRACE is funded almost exclusively through donations. Bingham said the organizations, which is non-profit, receives $250 from the Cumberland Valley Area Development District as seed money.
The council has about 25 regular members and meets either the third or fourth Friday of every month at 3:00 p.m. at the Corbin Senior Citizens Center and Barbourville Street.
Anyone wanting more information on the group can find it online by going to its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/tricountyabusecouncilforelderstrace