A safer Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego's Adult Community Center (ACC) recently made strides to ensure those experiencing or witnessing elder abuse have the proper resources and tools available in a non-intimidating environment.
Starting last month, Lake Oswego Police Department Adult Resources Officer Dawn Pecoraro and Clackamas County Adult Protective Services Specialist Trevor Lewis were co-located at the ACC alongside ACC Client Services Coordinator Trace Rew to help reduce elder abuse.
"We work with a lot of law enforcement and community center partners anyways, so the idea was to get us all under one roof," said Lewis, adding that a lot of what he does is risk management intervention. "So instead of just suggesting someone go to the community center and check out the resources, we're located here now so I can invite the people I'm working with to come visit me in this setting and then while I have them here, I can kind of intro-
duce them to some of the resources the community center offers."
According to 2017 data from the Oregon Department of Human Services, 70% of the allegations into elder abuse or self-neglect that year were community allegations, meaning the alleged victims lived in community settings and the alleged perpetrator wasn't an employee or agent of a licensed residential facility. In that type of community setting, there were 3,672 cases of elder abuse or self-neglect, and 32% of those cases were for financial exploitation.
Elder abuse can often be seen when the older population is being taken advantage of — financially or emotionally — or are being neglected either by themselves or others.
ACC Manager Ann Adrian said that by having the collaboration and co-location of these prevention services, she hopes it will be less intimidating to have people call or visit the ACC for resources, instead of reporting potential cases of elder abuse to the police.
"It also might somewhat decrease stigma because if you have an adult protective services worker coming up to your house, people are going to talk, but if you can be invited into a senior center, (you) could be coming in for anything," Adrian said.
Pecoraro said that by being at the ACC part-time she is able to build better relationships with community members by having more face-to-face contact.
"I've been in this position for just over a year and just in that year I've established a pretty good rapport with all of the people that do come here," she said. "Just knowing that I'm here is going to be big."
By having Pecoraro, Lewis and Rew working together more closely, they say they can bounce concerns off of each other and can collaborate on home visits if needed.
"(We have) just completely different positions and information sharing is huge and we've run across that a few times with some people," said Pecoraro, adding that investigations are more efficient now. "We can share thoughts as we're investigating and that kind of thing, so it's worked out really well."
Rew's home visits are part of the Meals on Wheels program. So if people are approved for Meals on Wheels, Rew does an annual home visit as a meet-and-greet and as an assessment of any additional services or resources the ACC might be able to provide.
"There may be times when I receive a call and need Dawn and/or Trevor to check on someone who may be experiencing elder abuse or perhaps self-neglect of themselves," Rew said. "Each case is unique. It's been fantastic to offer and receive additional support from all three agencies."
Adrian said she hopes to eventually educate the community further about what constitutes elder abuse and neglect.
"A lot of older adults don't even know that they're being taken advantage of because of the cognitive issues, because they just think that's OK for them to give so and so a bunch of money," Adrian said. "Down the road we are definitely looking at different products we might be able to offer."
ACC staff members also plan to see an increased number of elder abuse cases eventually being reported because of increased awareness of the resources at the ACC.
"I think you will see an uptick in numbers and not necessarily that there are more cases, just (people) being more proactive and people being aware that they are victims," said Lake Oswego Police Lieutenant Darryl Wrisley.
If someone suspects elder abuse, they can call Pecoraro at 503-635-0221, the Lake Oswego Police non-emergency line or Clackamas County Adult Protection Services at 971-673-6655 or by email. For resources, visit or call the ACC at 503-534-5757.
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