Elder abuse and neglect have gained National recognition. Elder abuse is an intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to someone 60 years of age or older. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports approximately 1 in 10 Americans age 60+ have experienced some form of Elder Abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year.
In 2017 the need to focus on elder and at-risk adult abuse became more apparent in Rockdale County, due to a significant growth in our elderly population since 2010. From 2013 to 2017, an average of 122 cases were investigated by Adult Protective Services (APS) annually in this County. The District Attorney’s Office reported an increase in elder abuse investigations during this time period as well. In 2018-19, APS investigated 341 cases of alleged abuse.
Through tireless efforts Probate Judge Clarence Cuthpert, Jr., District Attorney Alisha Johnson, and Sheriff Eric J. Levett, a multi-disciplinary team, PEARL (Protecting our Elderly and At-Risk with Resources for better Living), was formed.
With prompt reporting of alleged abuse, elderly and at-risk adults can be removed from an abusive situation and provided resources to assist them. Moreover, the abusers and the perpetrators are held accountable criminally and civilly when their actions warrant the same.
In May 2019, PEARL was one of three officially recognized multi-disciplinary teams in the State of Georgia. The PEARL program continues to work in partnership with State and Local agencies to aid and ensure the well-being of elderly (65 and older) and at-risk (18-64 years old with a disability) adults.