Elder Abuse Awareness Day spotlights late-life domestic violence

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Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15. Estimates are that 5 million adults 60 and over are abused, neglected or exploited every year, with many cases going unreported. One estimate puts it at only 1 in 14 cases being reported. The Area Agency on Aging’s DOVES Program helps victim of late-life domestic violence.  Hear more from DOVES Program Manager Lizzie Kazan.

TED SIMONS: ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY IS JUNE 15TH. ESTIMATES ARE THAT 5 MILLION ADULTS 60 AND OVER ARE ABUSED, NEGLECTED OR EXPLOITED EVERY YEAR WITH MANY CASES GOING UNREPORTED. THE AREA AGENCY ON AGE'S DOVES PROGRAM HELPS VICTIMS OF LATE-LIFE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. WE GET MORE ON THIS SENSITIVE TOPIC FROM LIZZIE KAZAN OF THE AREA AGENCY ON AGING. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

LIZZIE KAZAN: THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: WHAT IS THE AREA AGENCY ON AGING DOVES PROGRAM?

LIZZIE KAZAN: IT IS OUR LATER IN LIFE DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL ABUSE PROGRAM. WE SERVE INDIVIDUALS 50 AND OVER THAT HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF SOME TYPE OF ABUSE. WHETHER IT'S AN INTIMATE PARTNER, OR CAREGIVER, OR ELDER ABUSE. FINCANCIAL EXPLOITATION.

TED SIMONS: AND CASE MANAGEMENT INVOLVED, I WOULD IMAGINE?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES, WE HAVE CASE MANAGEMENT, WE ARE MOBILE, WE SERVE ALL OF MARICOPA COUNTY. SO WE'RE ABLE TO GO OUT AND SERVE A VICTIM LOCATED ALL THE WAY UP IN ANTHEM OR WHEREVER THAT PERSON MAY BE.

TED SIMONS: I WOULD IMAGINE SUPPORT GROUPS AND CRISIS INTERVENTION ALSO IS INVOLVED WITH THIS.

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES. WE DO HAVE WEEKLY SUPPORT GROUPS. WE DO HAVE CRISIS INTERVENTION. INDIVIDUALS CAN ACCESS THE DOVES PROGRAM BY CALLING OUR SENIOR HELP LINE, THAT IS 24/7.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU HAVE THAT NUMBER?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES. 602-264-HELP.

TED SIMONS: EASY ENOUGH.

LIZZIE KAZAN: YEP.

TED SIMONS: I THINK PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED ABOUT ELDER ABUSE. I AM. THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE. IS IT INCREASING? WHAT IS HAPPENING OUT THERE?

LIZZIE KAZAN: I THINK THE REALITY IS, WE'RE SEEING MORE PEOPLE SPEAK OUT ABOUT IT. IT HAS BEEN GOING ON. IT HAS JUST BEEN SWEPT UNDER THE RUG AND HIDDEN. AND ONE OF THE ISSUES WE'RE SEEING A LOT OF IS SEXUAL ASSAULT HAPPENING TO OUR ELDERS. ABOUT 20% OF WOMEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED EVERY YEAR ARE OVER THE AGE OF 60.

TED SIMONS: WOW, AND A LOT OF THESE CASES GO UNREPORTED?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES, ONLY ABOUT 1 IN 13 ARE EVER REPORTED TO AN AGENCY.

TED SIMONS: SO HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE ELDER ABUSE? WE TALKED EARLIER IN THE PROGRAM ABOUT A SUICIDE RISK. HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE WHEN SOMETHING IS GOING WRONG?

LIZZIE KAZAN: DEFINITELY ONE OF THE BIGGEST INDICATORS IS SOMEBODY WHO IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE ISOLATED. A LOT OF TIMES WE SEE THE PERSON PERPETRATING THE ABUSE, THE VICTIM DEPENDS ON THAT PERSON FOR SOME LEVEL OF CARE, SO IN ORDER TO GAIN POWER AND CONTROL OVER THEM, THEY START TO ISOLATE THEIR VICTIM. SO SOMEBODY WHO MIGHT HAVE GONE TO CHURCH EVERY WEEK IS NO LONGER GOING TO CHURCH. AND THEY’RE NOT HAVING A HEALTH ISSUE. SOMEBODY WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN DOING BINGO AT THE LOCAL SENIOR CENTER AND IS NO LONGER COMING, THAT MIGHT BE A INDICATOR.

TED SIMONS: IS IT DIFFICULT FOR SOME OF THESE FOLKS TO ADMIT THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM?

LIZZIE KAZAN: ABSOLUTELY. DENIAL IS THE NUMBER ONE COPING SKILL THAT I SEE WHEN WORKING WITH VICTIMS BECAUSE IT'S HOW THEY ARE ABLE TO SURVIVE THE HORRENDOUS ABUSE THEY ARE HAVING IN THEIR HOME.

TED SIMONS: YEAH. THE NEEDS -- SOMETIMES VICTIMS THINK THEIR NEEDS ARE NOT AS IMPORTANT AS THE FAMILY'S NEEDS.

LIZZIE KAZAN: ABSOLUTELY. THEY WERE RAISED WITH SOCIAL AND CULTURAL VALUES THAT MIGHT BE DIFFERENT, SO THEY PUT EVERYBODY ABOVE THEMSELVES AND SO THEIR NEEDS ARE THE LOWEST ON THE TOTEM POLE.

TED SIMONS: AND THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK, I WOULD IMAGINE?

LIZZIE KAZAN: ABSOLUTELY. THERE IS FEAR ABOUT NOT BEING BELIEVED. ABOUT FEAR OF RETALIATION THAT MIGHT HAPPEN. THE FAMILY FOUND OR THE PUBLIC FOUND OUT. THAT SOMETHING COULD GET WORSE.

TED SIMONS: YOU MENTIONED EARLIER ABOUT DEPENDENCE. THERE HAS TO ALSO BE A FEAR OF LEAVING HOME.

LIZZIE KAZAN: ABSOLUTELY. THERE IS A LOT OF FEAR OF BEING PLACED IN A NURSING HOME OR ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY. INDIVIDUALS DON'T WANT TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES, THEY DON’T WANT TO LEAVE THEIR BELONGINGS AND THE THINGS THAT THEY’VE CREATED IN THEIR LIFE. THEY DECIDE TO -- TO STAY BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT IS THE BEST OPTION.

TED SIMONS: AND IT MIGHT BE THE ONLY OPTION THEY SEE BECAUSE THEY ARE SO FINANCIALLY DEPENDANT ON THE SPOUSE.

LIZZIE KAZAN: ABSOLUTELY.

TED SIMONS: I NOTICED THERE IS A WAY TO KIND OF PREPARE A SAFETY PLAN FOR LEAVING. IF SOMEONE -- YOU KNOW, THEY ARE READY TO MAKE THAT MOVE, WHAT DO THEY NEED TO TAKE WITH THEM AS THEY GO?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES, WE CALL THAT A GO BAG. IT'S TYPICALLY A SET OF CLOTHING, TOILETRIES, COUPLE WEEKS WORTH OF MEDICATIONS. ANY IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS. IDS, PASSPORTS, BIRTH CERTIFICATES, AND ANY INFORMATION THEY HAVE -- ANY MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES, DIVORCE PAPERS, ANYTHING LIKE THAT, WE ALWAYS RECOMMEND. THERE IS ALSO GETTING A SEPARATE PHONE THAT IS NOT, YOU KNOW, A CELL PHONE FOR THAT -- THAT THE PERPETRATOR MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT, KEYS AS WELL.

TED SIMONS: AND I SAW OPENING SAVINGS ACCOUNT IN YOUR NAME.

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES, WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND TO TRY TO GET THEM MORE FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE AS WELL.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT CHOOSING SOMEONE THAT YOU TRUST? EVERYONE -- HOPEFULLY EVERYONE HAS SOMEONE THAT THEY CAN TRUST TO TELL THAT -- GIVE YOUR STUFF TO THAT PERSON, GIVE THE GO BAG TO THAT PERSON. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES, ABSOLUTELY. THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT HAVE SOME KIND OF SUPPORT SYSTEM AVAILABLE SO THAT THEY CAN REACH OUT AND MAYBE HAVE THAT INDIVIDUAL BE ON THE LOOKOUT OR BE PREPARED FOR WHEN AN INCIDENT OCCURS, THAT PERSON MIGHT HAVE TO FLEE.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT THE IDEA THAT IF SOMEONE HAS SUFFERED ABUSE, HAVING PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN OF THE ABUSE, SO YOU HAVE A RECORD OF WHAT HAPPENED HERE.

LIZZIE KAZAN: WE RECOMMEND THAT IF IT'S SAFE. BUT IF THE INDIVIDUAL HAS BEEN SO ISOLATED THEY DON'T HAVE ANYBODY TO STORE THAT INFORMATION, WE DON'T WANT A PERPETRATOR HAPPENING UPON THAT AND IT COULD ESCALATE THE ABUSE.

TED SIMONS: THE PERIOD IMMEDIATELY AFTER LEAVING IS THE MOST DANGEROUS FOR THESE FOLKS.

LIZZIE KAZAN: IT IS. THE FIRST YEAR AFTER YOU HAVE LEFT, INCREASES YOUR RISK.

TED SIMONS: WHY IS THAT?

LIZZIE KAZAN: BECAUSE THE PERPETRATOR HAS LOSS POWER AND CONTROL OVER THEIR VICTIM, SO THEY WANT THAT BACK FROM THEIR VICTIM, SO IF THE VICTIM HAS LEFT, THEY HAVE MADE A STATEMENT THAT THEY ARE INDEPENDENT AND THEY DON'T NEED THE PERPETRATOR.

TED SIMONS: ONCE THEY HAVE LEFT, WHAT CAN THE AREA AGENCY DO? WHAT CAN OTHER SERVICES DO? JOB READINESS? JOB SEARCH? GETTING YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS, AND EVERYTHING LIKE THAT IN ORDER, WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAD THEM IN ORDER IN THE FIRST PLACE?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES, WE DO -- THROUGH THE DOVES PROGRAM, WE WORK WITH PEOPLE ON WHATEVER THEIR NEEDS MIGHT BE. IT FIGHT BE FIGURING OUT SOCIAL SECURITY, FIGURING OUT HEALTH INSURANCE, FINDING A JOB. FINDING SOME PLACE TO LIVE. THE GREAT THING ABOUT OUR MOBILE PROGRAM IS THAT INDIVIDUALS CAN WORK WITH A CASE MANAGER BEFORE THEY LEAVE, AND SO THEY ARE ABLE TO MAKE A PLAN AND BE MORE STABLE.

TED SIMONS: THAT SOUNDS LIKE A DANGEROUS SITUATION.

LIZZIE KAZAN: WE DO SAFETY PLAN A LOT WITH OUR INDIVIDUALS THAT ACCESS THAT PROGRAM AND OUR CASE MANAGERS.

TED SIMONS: AND TRANSPORTATION A BIGGY AS WELL?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES, AND WE DO PROVIDE BUS PASSES AND HELP INDIVIDUALS ACCESS WHATEVER TRANSPORTATION --

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. IT SOUNDS LIKE FAMILY SERVICES AND ALL OF THESE SORTS OF THINGS, EVERYTHING IS THERE FOR THESE FOLKS. HOW -- IF SOMEONE IS WATCHING RIGHT NOW, AND THEY MAY KNOW SOMEONE OR MAYBE IT'S THEM, HOW CAN THEY FIND OUT MORE?

LIZZIE KAZAN: THEY CAN VISIT OUR WEBSITE, OR THAT CAN CALL THAT SENIOR HELP CARE NUMBER.

TED SIMONS: AND ARE WE SEEING AN INCREASE IN THIS?

LIZZIE KAZAN: YES.

TED SIMONS: DO WE KNOW WHY?

LIZZIE KAZAN: THERE ARE VARIOUS AMOUNTS OF REASONS, BUT ULTIMATELY WHEN SOMEONE HAS THAT DESIRE TO HAVE POWER AND CONTROL OVER AN INDIVIDUAL, THEY ARE GOING TO EXERCISE THAT.

TED SIMONS: IT JUST SEEMS LIKE WHAT IS GOING ON OUT THERE?

LIZZIE KAZAN: IT IS A DIFFERENT WAY OF THINKING. THESE INDIVIDUALS HAVE A BELIEVE SYSTEM THAT THEY ARE ABLE TO HAVE POWER AND CONTROL OVER ANOTHER PERSON.

TED SIMONS: VERY GOOD STUFF. LET'S HOPE ONE DAY YOU DON'T HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THIS KIND OF STUFF ANYMORE.

LIZZIE KAZAN: THAT IS MY HOPE.

TED SIMONS: TUESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON" DEVELOPMENT IS INCREASING COMPETITION FOR SCARCE GROUNDWATER IN THE NEW RIVER AREA, AND THE LEGALITIES OF THE NEARLY 1500 IMMIGRANT CHILDREN LOST BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. THAT'S ON THE NEXT "ARIZONA HORIZON." THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

Area Agency President and CEO Mary Lynn Kasunic

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