World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15!

As Americans, we believe in justice for all. Yet, every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10 older Americans experience elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Working together, we can build the social supports that can prevent this abuse and keep everyone safe as we age.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) – commemorated on June15th every year – is an
opportunity for people or organizations to take action to protect older people by raising awareness about elder abuse, why it occurs, and what we can do to stop it. We can act collectively to support justice for all.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person. Elder abuse takes many forms, including:
  • Neglect or Isolation
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse and exploitation
  • Emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats)

Each state defines elder abuse differently. (You may wish to look up your state’s statutes to see how elder abuse is defined. For assistance, contact the NCEA.)There is some debate over whether mistreatment by strangers, rather than by a person in a trust relationship to the older person such as spouse, child, or friend, also constitutes elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Why Should We Care About Elder Abuse?
Caring about elder abuse is caring about justice for all. As a country, we are committed to ensuring the just treatment of all people, but elder abuse violates this value.The costs of elder abuse are high for the affected individuals and society alike. Their losses can be tangible (homes and life savings) and intangible (dignity, independence, and possibly their lives). For society, elder abuse is both a social and economic issue: it creates health care and legal costs, which are often shouldered by public programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and isolates them from the community. It’s in everyone’s interest to care about and prevent elder abuse.

What Causes Elder Abuse?
Our policies and practices make it hard to stay involved with and connected to our communities as we age. As a result, older people are more likely to experience social isolation, which increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect. Elder abuse affects older people across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races and can occur anywhere when they are disconnected from social supports:
  • In a person’s own home
  • In nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutional settings
  • In hospitals

While any older person is potentially at risk of elder abuse, some are more susceptible to experience abuse or neglect than others. Based on available information, women and people 80 and older are more likely to experience abuse. Factors such as dementia or poor physical health can increase older people’s isolation, which in turn puts people at greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect.

SOME COMMON RISK FACTORS:
  • Dementia
  • Mental health or substance abuse issues of an older person and/or a perpetrator
  • Social isolation
  • Poor physical health

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