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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Public Event To Focus On Elder Abuse

The leaders of South Dakota’s Executive and Judicial branches say they’re teaming up for a comprehensive look at elder abuse in the state. During the regular session, state lawmakers approved an Elder Abuse Task Force. State leaders are also announcing a public conference as the panel begins work.

The World Health Organization uses June 15th to call attention to elder abuse around the globe. Greg Sattizahn with South Dakota’s Unified Judicial System says mistreatment of seniors is a quiet problem.

“Because of the nature of elder abuse and a lot of times that abuse might be by someone that is very close to the victim and that victim, the elderly person, might rely on them to provide their care, and so a lot of times that’s underreported, and there’s not that willingness or ability to come forward,” Sattizahn says. “So I think it is something that awareness probably will shine some light on a problem that we have. We just don’t understand the full extent of it right now.”

South Dakota’s judicial branch, lawmakers, and Governor Dennis Daugaard are collaborating on the Elder Abuse Task Force. Sattizahn says a conference in July is bringing national experts to help the panel and people in the community understand elder abuse.

“There’s a lot of aspects to this, whether it’s law enforcement or social services or the medical side, the legal side,” Sattizahn says. “People that are just concerned about this issue and learning more about it are welcome to attend the conference.”

The July 20th gathering in Sioux Falls is free; people can register to attend online at this link.

Sattizahn says the conference exposes cruelty to the elderly through angles including prosecution, defense, physical abuse, mental abuse, and financial exploitation.