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My Turn: Will you help us look out for our vulnerable neighbors?

Posted: September 11, 2013 - 11:26pm  |  Updated: September 12, 2013 - 12:12am

Winter will be here soon. The season can be hard on adults who are vulnerable for some reason – such as a disability, health condition, or old age.

More than 5,600 vulnerable Alaskan adults were at risk for abuse or were victims of self-neglect, neglect, or physical, emotional, and financial abuse last year.

If you know an adult who is unable to care for him- or herself properly, or may be being harmed or exploited, please contact Adult Protective Services at 1-800-478-9996.

We work to protect the independence and physical, financial and emotional wellbeing of adults 18 and older. Our services are voluntary; Alaska law protects the right of mentally competent adults to choose liberty over safety, and we’ll honor their decision while offering support.

So don’t hesitate to “SPEAK UP” for at-risk adults if you see any of these warning signs:

• Sudden change in behavior, finances or lifestyle

• Physical injures, dehydration or malnourishment;

• Extreme withdrawal, depression or anxiety;

• Absence of basic care or necessities;

• Kept away from others;

• Unsanitary living conditions;

• Personal items or money missing.

You don’t have to be certain that a situation is abusive or neglectful; we will look into it. Your report is confidential, and can make all the difference in someone’s world.

Brenda Mahlatini, program manager, Adult Protective Services, Division of Senior & Disabilities Services, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

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