The May 29 presenter for the meeting of the Rotary Club of Heber Springs was Shannon Halijan, Director of Adult Protective Services (APS), a program of the Division of Aging and Adult Services, part of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. She presented to the club information about APS and their work in the state.

Adult Protective Services seeks to take care of the impaired and vulnerable among Arkansas’ adult population and protect them from abuse, neglect and exploitation. There are four units in Arkansas. Cleburne county is in Area 2. Ms. Halijan stated that there are only 10-12 investigators in each area, totaling just about 40 in the entire state, which makes their job a big one.

The highest number of maltreatment cases they investigate, nearly 64% of cases, falls under the category of “self-neglect.” Many elderly people have outlived family and friends and are no longer able to meet their own basic needs because of physical limitations or mental impairment such as dementia. “Other states have taken legislative measures to separate these types of cases from regular abuse, neglect and exploitation cases,” she said, “but Arkansas has not yet done this.”

Asking the public to “be aware of red flags,” Ms. Halijan encouraged the community to be involved. “Recognize that this is happening, and don’t be afraid to make a call to ask that someone check on an individual you are concerned about.” She said about 20,000 cases are called in each year, but that is estimated to be only a small fraction of the need that actually exists.

APS works closely with other community partners such as law enforcement and Area Agencies on Aging to try to meet the needs of these individuals. While APS is not set up to deal with addiction and treatment and chronic mental health issues (statutory restrictions prohibit involvement with these individuals), they can make referrals to community partners who may be able to help.

Rotarians are “People of Action” who are making a difference locally, nationally and internationally.  The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The Rotary Club of Heber Springs meets each Tuesday at noon on the ASU-Heber Springs Campus. For more information about the Rotary Club of Heber Springs, please visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/TheRotaryClubofHeberSpringsAR.