Webinars set to address the problem of elder abuse

August 28, 2013

To hear the full interview with Christine Anders, visit: http://www.iaumc.org/audio/detail/151

By Lisa Bourne*

The Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is addressing elder abuse in its latest effort to serve the vulnerable among us.

Two webinars focusing on adult abuse, and looking specifically at the financial exploitation of seniors, are scheduled for the fall: October 22 and November 19.  Each runs from 10:00 am until 11:30 am.  The registration link for the webinars is: https://www.iowaaging.gov/elder-abuse-neglect-and-exploitation

Rev. Dr. Art McClanahan, communications director for the Iowa Annual Conference, recently sat down with Christine Anders, minister of Discipleship for First United Methodist Church in Des Moines, and chair of Iowa Annual Conference’s Older Adult Council.

The plan for the webinars will be part of a partnership with the State of Iowa and is part of a comprehensive plan for older adult ministries within the United Methodist Church in Iowa.

“Last year the General Board of Discipleship had talked about as a problem that they are focusing on is the increasing financial exploitation of seniors,” Anders said.

After hearing that on the national level, Anders said, she had also attended a meeting hosted by Governor Branstad on adult abuse.

“It seemed like something the State was interested in, and the Church was interested in,” said Anders, “So I started talking with a woman from State government who said she would be really happy to partner with the Church.”

It was at this point that the Iowa Conference became the primary religious presence working with the State on the issue.

The Governor’s representative was very happy to initiate a partnership with UMC, said Anders, as they had been working to establish working relationships with various churches without success.

“She was really happy when I asked her if the United Methodist Church could be her jumping off point with trying to reach clergy and others in the state,” Anders said.

Anders said focus for the sessions will be, “the elephant in the room,” referring to the financial exploitation of seniors.

Included in the initial sessions will be such things as impact and results, becoming aware of warning signs risk factors, why elder abuse occurs, why there are barriers to reporting it and identifying perpetrators and their tools.

“Unfortunately we’re finding that most of the perpetrators are family members,” said Anders.

Another aspect that will be covered in the first session is tips on communicating with potential victims, as well as addressing whether clergy members are mandatory reporters in the state of Iowa.

The second webinar will include the legal aspects of aging and substitute decision making.

“We’ll be looking at things like determining if someone is competent, their capacity, powers of attorney for healthcare decisions and guardianships,” Anders said.

The elder abuse webinars are complementary to resources included in the United Methodist Church’s Safe Sanctuaries program.

“What we would like to see eventually is churches putting in place paperwork and policies to prevent exploitation of adults,” said Anders.

The webinars will be designed to allow ease of access from anywhere on the web.

“We just want to get the information out and we thought this would be an easy way to do it,” Anders said. “We thought that people would have time, to just not have to go someplace, they could just sit down at their own computer and tune in to what’s being said.”

The webinars will continue to be available after the initial broadcast events on the Iowa Annual Conference website.

For more information on the Safe Sanctuary program, the Older Adult Council and the upcoming elder abuse webinar dates, visit www.iaumc.org

*Lisa Bourne is a member of the IAUMC Communications Ministry Team, serving as Communications Assistant