The elderly, ages 65 and older, is part of the vulnerable population that needs significant protection and assistance from their family and community. Salt Lake City has a growing elderly population, which comprises 10. 3% of the city’s total population (Assisted Living Directory, 2010). It is the most populous region in Utah where the total elderly population comprises 9% of the states’s total population (US Census Bureau, 2010). This statistical figure is lower than than the average national percentage of elderly population.
However, Utah has the fastest growing elderly population, hence the elderly population is expected to increase in the very near future. This increasing trend in the aging population prompts for community action in predicting the needs of the elderly to adequately support them (The Utah Aging Initiative, n. d. ). In addition, these current demographics illustrate that there are a lot of opportunities for an elderly to be abused, hence, a call for action. There are very few cases of elderly abuse that are reported in proper agencies in comparison to the actual high number of occuring elderly abuses.
According to the Utah Adult Protective Services, the vulnerable elderly population mostly suffer from self-neglect, exploitation, and physical and emotional abuse among the 3 highest ranked elderly issues (n. d. ). An awareness of this calls for adequate protection and support from available agencies that cater to this population. In Salt Lake City, Utah, there are a number of agencies that provide support and protection to the elderly population and aid them in maximizing the quality of their remaining life.
Three of the agencies that address the needs of this population are the Utah Adult Protective Services, the Salt Lake County Aging Services, and the Eddie P. Mayne Kearns Senior Center. The Adult Protective Services (APS) in Utah provides their services to elder adults who need protection from different forms of abuse and exploitation until such time that they no longer need external help. Services are provided by the agency primarily on a voluntary basis as well as by court order.
It is the sole responsibility of the APS to provide protective services to any vulnerable elderly and dependent adult regardless of their financial capacity (APS, 2008). A vulnerable adult is defined as an individual who is 65 years or older. In addition, an adult (18 years old and above) with physical and mental disabilities, who cannot provide self-protection, basic physiologic needs such as food and shelter, and unable to carry out daily chores, is included in the agency’s target population. This person is also unable to discern the dangerous situation he is in.
According to the agency, an eligible referral fulfills the two provisions previously stated and presents a risk for abuse, neglect, and exploitation. First, abuses can take the form of emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. Second, neglect is two-way, it can either be from the caregiver or the individual himself. Third, exploitation can be financial, criminal, or legal in form (APS, 2008). It is mandated by law that any person who is aware of a presence of abusive conduct against a vulnerable adult should report this to the Adult Protective Services.
Failure to report has a corresponding charge against the person (APS, 2008). Once the Adult Protective Services is notified of the abuse report, the process of intake starts. The reporting individual should contact the receiving intake worker from the APS through their phone numbers or via internet referral. The reporter provides all necessary information regarding the individual who needs the protective services of the agency, as well as the abuser’s pertinent information.
After documenting all information, the intake worker informs the reporter regarding referral services and the assigned investigator for further assessment (APS, 2008). The APS is responsible for receiving and screening abuse reports. However, not all abuse reports are prompted with immediate action. A process of in-depth investigation follows the abuse report. The APS also assesses the immediate needs of the adult and provides crisis intervention to alleviate the patient’s condition. Furthermore, referrals are made to the appropriate community agencies.
These services are provided to the adult only when the adult permits and needs help. These will be discontinued once the adult regains independence and the ability to protect him/her self from abuse (APS, 2008). The services of the APS incur costs to participants receiving their services. Primarily, the vulnerable adult shoulders all expenses from protective services received if a) he/she is financially capable of paying the costs, b) he/she is eligible to receive services from other agencies, and c) he/she is required by court law to pay his appointed guardian with his/her own money (APS, 2008).
The needs of the elderly can be protected not only by reporting abuses but also through health promotion in this group. There are agencies in Salt Lake, namely, Salt Lake County Aging Services and Eddie P. Mayne Kearns Senior Center, that advocate for healthy and active elderly by offering activities in younger seniors. Abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly are prevented through these services. These services also contribute to a meaningful and creative life for the elderly. The Salt Lake County Aging Services provides their services to young and active seniors, as well as the frail elderly.
Their target population are the seniors, disabled adults, and their caregivers (“Salt Lake”, n. d. ). The agency’s mission is to promote independence in the older population in Salt Lake City. The agency is composed of eligible volunteer staffs and program managers for the various services they provide. Interested individuals who want to join the agency in helping the elderly can apply through volunteer opportunities. Volunteer positions are available for all the different programs offered by the agency.
There are assigned volunteer coordinators and program assistants for all programs and services. However, there is an eligibility criteria that a participant should pass before being accepted into the agency. Likewise, there is also an eligibility criteria that needs to be fulfilled by an elderly person who wishes to receive such services offered by the agency (Salt Lake County Aging Services, 2009). Specific requirements for eligibility in the different services offered by the agency are available in their official website.
For instance, the senior transportation program assists the elderly in gaining access to health care facilities needed for their treatment by providing a means of transportation. This program greatly helps elders who have neither vehicles of their own nor a family relative who can drive for them. Transportation may include rides to the hospitals for critical treatments such as chemotherapy or going to the pharmacy to pick-up prescribed medicines. Rides are available during weekdays from 8 in the morning to 4:15 in the afternoon, except for Thursdays, when schedule starts later at 9:30 am to 4:15 pm.
Schedules are requested through phone calls and should be set one week in advance to allow sufficient time to organize shifts. Donation statements requesting $2. 00 for each trip is sent out monthly to clients (Salt Lake County Aging Services, 2009). The process of intake of clients in the program starts with screening for eligibility which is done through phone interview. In this specific program, a client may receive ride services if a) he/she is 60 years or older, b) he/she resides at Salt Lake County, and c) he/she lacks other means for transportation.
Meanwhile, a participant can become a volunteer driver for this program if he/she fulfills the volunteer requirements. These include possession of a current class D Utah driver’s license, good driving record, and commitment to work at least 4 hours per shift in a week. He/She must also pass a background check and complete a course on defensive driving (Salt Lake County Aging Services, 2009). The Eddie P. Mayne Kearns Center is operated by the Salt Lake County Aging Services. The agency was founded to address foreseeable needs of the growing elderly population in Salt Lake.
They provide their services to older adults, 50 years and above. The agency’s staff is composed of elder adults which is a good representation of who they are and who they serve. The staff is composed of a center manager, program and office specialists, special instructors for the activities offered, and other aides to manage the meals, security, and transportation (Eddie P. Mayne Kearns Senior Center, n. d. ). Volunteer opportunities are available for participants who want to render their services for the agency.
Volunteers with special skills in performing and teaching classes offered in the agency are highly encouraged to apply. Requirements include reliability and being people-oriented. There are no minimum hours of work required from volunteers. On the other hand, a person may participate in the senior activities offered by the agency if a) he/she is 60 years and above, or b) he/she is a spouse of someone who is 60 years or older. As long as these requirements are fulfilled, an individual may participate in the activities by giving a small amount of donation (Salt Lake County Aging Services, 2008).
There are available, accessible, and affordable agencies that address the needs of the elderly population in Salt Lake County, Utah. These agencies are very important in helping the elderly population if indeed abuses are being committed against them and in preventing abuses from being conducted through opportunities for independent and healthy lifestyle. Awareness of the presence of these agencies is very important so that the elderly population or people who want to help can readily access and contact the said agencies.