GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Mesa County Department of Human Services held a special event earlier today to help people understand more about elderly abuse and neglect in our community. Here’s a closer look on the ways we can protect older community members.

So many elderly individuals in our community depend on others for care and safety – and that, makes them the prime targets for mistreatment.

“Adult protection is my passion. I firmly believe this is a necessary service to the individuals in our community,” says Program Manager of Adult Protection Services, Candace McGuire.

Candace also says the purple ribbon ceremony aims to reduce abuse and neglect. In 2021, residents reported more than 1600 cases of elderly abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“This is just another way of getting the information out to the community that we are here and we are willing to be of assistance,” McGuire continues.

Kirsten Barnard, Lead Supervisor for the Adult Protection Services says the county is changing the way it responds to elderly abuse: one way, is completing thorough background checks on individuals who provide in-home services.

“I think we do a lot of great work to help amplify their voice and support them and advocate for what they want and what they need,” Barnard says.

The purple ribbons tied around these trees symbolize the national elder abuse crisis. But Joe Kellerby, Director of Child Welfare and Adult Protection Divisions says…the conversation won’t stop here.

“Our at-risk adults citizen here in Mesa County, they need help at times, they need help with their own protection, their own safety, they need help protecting of their finances,” says Kellerby.

Some elderly residents feel embarrassed to reach out for help. Be sure to watch out for them and when they need it, contact Mesa County’s Department of Human Services.