Leaders gather for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Protecting our elders was the message City of Memphis and county leaders talked about Monday.

"We have to take care of our most vulnerable citizens and those that can't care for themselves," said Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

Weirich was one of several speakers at Monday's event at the Benjamin Hooks Library advocating for elder abuse awareness.

"By the time it reaches the District Attorney's Office, it's too late," she said.

It's been too late in several cases WREG has told you about.

A week ago the daughter of a retired police captain was arrested for neglecting her father.

Officers said she left him in a dirty diaper, didn't feed him and stole his money.

Weirich said under Tennessee law, if you suspect abuse you must report it.

"Whether it's physical abuse, whether it's neglect, whether it's financial abuse, you have the duty under the law," she explained.

Patti Tosti with the Plough Foundation said preventing the problem starts with outreach and education.

"We need older adults to feel safe about communicating and talking to people. 90% of older adults are abused by family members and that's a harsh statistic," said Tosti.

Those weren't the only staggering numbers.

Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse, or CREA, said every year 5 million Americans are victims of elder abuse and 1,800 cases are reported in Shelby County.

CREA said it is working to curb these numbers by providing victims with health care, housing and legal help.

"So that it is more comfortable for them to come forward and say if they are or if they have concerns of being abused," said Tosti.

For more information about elder abuse, click here.