New law seeks to combat elder abuse in Shelby County

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - A new law is aimed at combating abuse against vulnerable adults, and Shelby County Commission learned Wednesday just how much that law is needed.

"The numbers disturb me," Commissioner George Chism said. "I don't know what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting these numbers."

Representatives with the Coordinated Response for Elder Abuse (CREA) painted an alarming pictures of seniors being neglected and abused.

"I don't think people understand how pervasive elder abuse and neglect is, so our first goal is to raise awareness," Melanie Keller said.

CREA reports it has worked on 660 cases, with 88 percent of those cases including both physical abuse and financial exploitation.

Commissioner Heidi Shaffer shared a warning after her colleague was targeted.

"Once again there is scam going around and they are very persistent. They were actually saying they were sending the sheriff's department right then," Shafer explained.

Commissioner Terry Roland said his district has seen a rise in senior victims of opioid theft.

"They are a prime target when it comes to getting their medication stolen," Roland said.

CREA said the 38109 zip code has the highest number of crimes reported since 2016.

"We're looking at the potential for close to 7,000 cases of elder abuse in Shelby County alone in the last 3 years," Keller said.

CREA community partners said combating the issue will require better advocacy and a collaborative support system.

"It's not a problem that one group can solve. It's a community problem that's going to take the community to come together," Keller said.

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