PEARL – a Commitment to Elder Well-being

Elder abuse and neglect are issues capturing national attention and demanding our collective action. This form of abuse, marked by intentional harm or the failure to provide care, often by those in positions of trust, affects millions of seniors.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), approximately 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse, with estimates suggesting that as many as 5 million elders face abuse each year.

In 2017, the growing concern surrounding elder and at-risk adult abuse became increasingly evident in Rockdale County, primarily due to a significant growth in the elderly population. Between 2013 and 2017, Adult Protective Services (APS) investigated an average of 122 cases annually in the county and the District Attorney’s Office reported a surge in elder abuse investigations with APS investigating 341 cases of alleged abuse in 2018-19.

In response to this pressing issue, a dedicated team, including State Court Judge Clarence Cuthpert, Jr., District Attorney Alisha Johnson, and Sheriff Eric J. Levett, came together to form the PEARL Program (Protecting our Elderly and At-Risk with Resources for better Living). It used a multi-disciplinary team committed to safeguarding the elderly and at-risk adults. 

The approach emphasizes prompt reporting of alleged abuse, enabling the swift removal of seniors and at-risk individuals from abusive situations. Beyond protection, the program ensures that resources and support are readily available to aid in recovery. Not stopping at protection, the PEARL Program also holds abusers and perpetrators accountable, both criminally and civilly, when necessary. This stance sends a clear message that elder abuse will not be tolerated in Rockdale County.

In May 2019, the PEARL Program achieved official recognition as one of only three multi-disciplinary teams in the State of Georgia. Today, it continues to collaborate with state and local agencies to ensure the well-being of the elderly (aged 65 and older) and at-risk adults (aged 18-64 with disabilities).

The Rockdale County PEARL Program’s mission is to:

  • Elevate awareness
  • Provide a timely response
  • Investigate effectively
  • Preserve the protective processes of any reported abuse towards the elderly and at-risk individuals in Rockdale County.

Through the PEARL Program’s dedication and tireless efforts, Rockdale County is committed to protecting its seniors, ensuring a safe and supportive community for everyone, regardless of age or vulnerability. Click here to learn more about PEARL.