Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Elder abuse can include physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse as well as neglect and financial exploitation. No senior is immune; elder abuse happens to seniors across all socio-economic groups, races, abilities, and cultures. It happens in our community. It takes all the eyes of the community to watch for it and take action.

What are the risk factors for elder abuse? Though it can happen to any senior some of us are particularly vulnerable, including those experiencing social isolation, diminishing mental or physical capacities, and the very elderly.

Who are the perpetrators? Sadly our own family members, friends, fellow church members, trusted professionals, and neighbors are often perpetrators of elder abuse.

Why are senior victims unlikely to disclose the abuse? Embarrassment, shame, fear of retaliation, and fear that our vulnerabilities will be used against us to take away our autonomy and rights to make our own choices. Especially when the abuser is family or close friend a victim may also not want the perpetrator to get in trouble. He or she may just want the abuse to stop but not know how.

What should I do if I suspect abuse of a senior in my community? Adult Protective Services is our state's investigation unit for allegations of adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation. You can call day or night to make a report 1-800-352-6513.

What can I do to raise awareness about elder abuse? Talk to your friends, your family, your work mates, your church, fellow group members, about what to look for and how to report it. Write a letter to the editor to help others be aware it can happen to anyone. Keep in touch with older people in your world. Check on an older neighbor or family member or friend. Let seniors know they can trust you to help if they ever need it, that you are a safe person to talk to. Make opportunities for older people to talk to you in private, away from caregivers or other family.

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