We are always adding to our web page! Check back often for our blog, updates, stories from the staff and important information!

Elder Justice

Home » Elder Justice

Our Elder Justice Navigator provides care consultation, resources and assistance for survivors and persons experiencing/reporting fraud, abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Council on Aging of Buncombe County (COAbc) & Dementia Friendly WNC (DFWNC) will work together to address opportunities for People Living with Dementia (PLWD) and cognitive impairments (CI) to build resilience within a welcoming, knowledgeable Dementia Friendly community, address risk factors for elder abuse & provide supportive services for health & well-being as they age in place. Community educational programming will build awareness, reduce stigma, and provide information on risks for abuse among PLWD. We advocate for PLWD & caregivers, increase access to service/support, improve the likelihood of thriving & realizing their potential as independently as possible.

Our Purpose

To ensure that older adults live free from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglectful treatment and misappropriation of funds and resources.  This is in addition to implementing the COA mission to promote the independence, dignity, and well-being of adults through service, education, and advocacy.

For more information please contact Janice Payne by calling (828) 277-8288.

Statistics on Elder Abuse

  • With every 1 elder abuse case reported there are 13 that go unreported
  • Why individuals don’t report: embarrassment, pride, and love for the person doing the crime
  • 300% higher risk of death for abuse victims
  • 85.5% of elder abuse is perpetrated by family members- child, sibling, spouse, grandchild

Signs of Elder Abuse – What is it?

Age, gender, social isolation, diminished capacity, and level of dependence on caregivers are all substantial factors.

  • Emotional and Behavioral Signs – Fear and anxiety, isolation from family and friends, and withdrawal from normal activities
  • Physical Signs – unexplained bruises, unutusal wieght loss, unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, cuts, sores and burns.
  • Financial Signs– frequent trips to the bank, a new “friend”, unpaid bills, sudden change to

The Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Inc. has developed and implemented this policy and procedure to prohibit mistreatment, neglect, and abuse of all elders and misappropriation of elderly property.


If you suspect abuse, contact Buncombe County Adtult Protective Services at 828-250-5800.

Reporting a scam to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office: 877-5-NO-SCAM

Call the Elder Justice Navigator for more information on assistance with filing police reports, navigating the court system, and for more community resources. Even if your case was not accepted or substantiated by APS, we can offer support and direction as well as connecting you to legal services and other forms of help through our Information & Referral network.

(828) 277-8288.

Social Justice in WNC

“Advocating for social justice is essential to creating a more equitable world. For some, this has been a lifelong activity, but for many people, a question looms before them; “Where do I start? We hope this site provides a good starting place for those who might be new to social justice and for those looking to create cross-issue connections. It is our attempt at providing a central location for a list of Resources (to learn more) and possible Allies (to  connect and act) for those in western North Carolina, but we know it is not complete and welcome feedback and ideas to make it better and more complete.”

Dementia Friendly WNC

We know that people living with cognitive impairments are at increased risks for abuse, regardless of their age.

Aging is the greatest risk factor for the development of dementia. Buncombe County is aging more rapidly than other counties, with a 31%  increase in people 65 -74, 106% increase in ages 75 -84, and a 90% increase in ages 85+ expected by 2036. This equals 4,500 people & up to 9,000 people by 2050. Dementia can affect adults of all ages and has multifactorial risks, including lifestyle, chronic health conditions, and genetic components. Younger, middle-aged adults may also be increasingly likely to experience Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and depression, leading risk factors for advancing Dementia. The cognitive symptoms of a Dementia-related syndrome include challenges with planning & problem-solving, memory loss & confusion, lapses in judgment, & impacts executive functioning as well as language/communication. Behavioral symptoms can further impede the individual’s safety, feelings of security & sense of dignity. Both types of symptoms increase risks for abuse – neglect/self-neglect, fraud/scams, physical or sexual abuse, & exploitation.  As we strive for “a caring community in harmony with its environment where citizens succeed, thrive, and realize their potential”, PLWD, including those under the age of 65, may still be working, caring for families, & are likely to suffer from isolation, health problems & safety concerns. Many who are under the age of 60 and/or who don’t claim disability face incredible gaps in available, subsidized service and may lack community support or opportunities for advocacy.

COVID has increased social isolation, economic burdens, and changes in activity levels and opportunities for exercise, civic engagement, and how one accesses service and support. Churches have closed, telehealth appointments have increased, visits from friends & family who served as the “eyes and ears” of what is going on at home have impeded reporting of abuse to adult protective services. We recognize increased need for support in determining Power of Attorney, advance directives, evictions, & other legal needs.

Funding comes from WNC Bridge Foundation, donors and sponsors. Thank you!

Scroll to Top