SARCOA walks millions of steps for Elder Abuse Awareness Day | Local News

Haley Middlebrooks

Obama Regional Council on Aging is walking laps to raise awareness for elder abuse and neglect. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, around 1 in 10 Americans aged 60 plus have experienced abuse or neglect.

SARCOA currently has more than 60 walkers participating, which makes it the second largest team in the country, according to outreach coordinator Deb Hodgett. As of Monday, the SARCOA walkers have completed more than 13,274,882 steps — and counting.

“The troubling part of elder abuse is that majority of the time it is caused by the people close to the seniors, maybe a child or grandchild who mistreat them and take advantage of them,” Hodgett said. “So we’re trying to not only bring awareness of this issue but educate people as well and answer any questions they may have or point them in the direction of how to report it.”

The team of walkers will be walking Wednesday around the SARCOA building wearing purple t-shirts in promotion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

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“I do try my best to help keep everyone motivated by sending out weekly or either Monday motivation posts to help keep everyone’s spirits up,” said community coordinator and team organizer Twyla Williams.

“We’re thankful to our walkers volunteer to do this month-long challenge of walking and some members have even made a little competition out of it.”

Out of the 62 walkers on the team, SARCOA senior case manager and community-based services manager Amanda Black stands out by having walked 885,255 steps over a month.

“I started walking with the team to raise awareness of elderly abuse because I thought it would be something good for the community and for the agency as a whole,” Black said.

“Every morning I get up around 5 am and walk an hour to an hour and a half or so before work and then again I’ll walk another hour to two hours shortly after I get off work for the day,” she said. “I love walking and I enjoy helping raise awareness for our senior citizens.”

Despite the heat index getting up to as high as 101 in some area of ​​the Wiregrass, that isn’t stopping the walkers. Some of the walkers have moved their laps inside the SARCOA facility and will walk laps in the building to still get their steps in for the day while also staying cool.

Another walker is Jennie Rector, who has completed more than 146,405 steps in the month-long challenge.

“I am always looking for ways to support the people we serve here at SARCOA and one of the best ways to do that is by a show of support through advocacy walks like these,” Rector said.

“It provides us with the opportunity to have someone ask why, which then gives us the opportunity to bring awareness of issues the elderly face such as abuse.”

Rector is a hospital to home state coordinator that also works for both gateway community living and other hospital to home programs.

The SARCOA walkers will be holding a continuous walk Wednesday on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, from 8 am to 4 pm for those who wish to stop by, honk their horn, or donate time to walk to show support.

Last year, the Alabama Department of Human Resource’s Adult Protective Services Division received 11,122 reports of elder abuse across the state.

Elder abuse can appear in all shapes and forms such as neglect, physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse. For more information on signs of elder abuse please visit for the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Keep an eye out for these warning signs in elderly abuse – increased fear or anxiety, isolation from friends or family, withdrawal from normal activities, unusual changes in behavior or sleep, unexplained injuries, bruises, cuts or sores, unsanitary living conditions and poor hygiene , unusual or sudden changes in financial spending patterns, will or other important documents.

Check out more on elder abuse awareness by visiting World Elder Abuse Awareness – Building Strong Support for Elders.

Report any signs or suspected elder abuse by calling the Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-458-7214 or by contacting a local DHR county office. All reports are confidential and may be made anonymously.


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