The Guilford County Family Justice Center is probably best known for its work with battered spouses in the county, but it addresses a lot of issues as well and, this week, the Justice Center was focused on “elder abuse” issues and held a summit on the problem on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

The 2021 Elder Justice Summit was a virtual event meant to help inform those who deal with the problem such as law enforcement officers, civil attorneys, financial professionals, medical staff, social workers and others.

At a Thursday, Sept. 16 Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Kay Cashion, one of the county’s leaders who helped establish the Family Justice Center about seven years ago, praised the summit and the work of the center.  She had kind words regarding nationally known Attorney Paul Greenwood’s presentation. He spent over two decades as a San Diego prosecutor seeking justice for the elderly and other vulnerable adult victims of crime.

The goal of the summit was “to can create pathways to hope, healing, and justice.” And present “dynamic professional training.”

According to Catherine Johnson, the director of the center, elder abuse and exploitation is a growing problem.

Johnson said after the summit that the  Family Justice Center is committed to serving those who need help at any age.

The elderly, who can sometimes be vulnerable members of society, can be on the receiving end of financial, physical or mental abuse.

“From the youngest to the wisest, we want to create a safer community for all,” Johnson wrote in an email.  

She added that the Justice Center’s Elder Justice Committee is made up of government, non-profit and corporate organizations that work with older and disabled adults in Guilford County.

“Our committee’s focus for 2021 is to improve investigations and prosecution of perpetrators of physical, sexual, and financial abuse of older adults,” Johnson wrote. “The Elder Justice Summit’s keynote speaker [Greenwood], brought professionals including law enforcement, social services, advocacy, legal services, medical and EMS, and financial institutions together to learn strategies for improving our response to this egregious crime.  The training was dynamic and well attended, with over 100 professionals from across the county.”