Launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) provides an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of the mistreatment of older persons. To combat elder mistreatment, we must increase awareness of the many cultural, social, economic and demographic factors that contribute to the problem.
Here are some facts about elder abuse that everyone should know:
• Elder abuse is an “umbrella term” that includes neglect, financial exploitation and scams, as well mistreatment that is physical, psychological or sexual in nature.
• An estimated 1 in 10 Americans age 60+ have experienced abuse.
• The impact of elder abuse is felt by people of all ages.
• Without adequate healthcare and public resources, our population becomes more at risk for abuse as we age.
• Elder abuse also reduces older people’s participation in community life.
• Elder mistreatment creates significant health care and legal costs to our communities, which are often carried by public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
• Elder abuse is a crime and should always be reported; at present, experts estimate that only 1 of 23 instances of abuse is reported to authorities.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, we need to be prepared to assist older and disabled adults in many ways. We expect scams to be on the rise, as scammers prey on the fears and isolation that some older and disabled adults may be experiencing at this uncertain time. As a result, Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is hosting an educational webinar led by Amalia (Mercedes) Restuch-Klem with the Office of the NC Attorney General on June 17, 2020.
You are also invited to join Centralina AAA for our virtual Walk, Roll & Stroll event June 17-June 21 as we raise awareness of this vitally important issue. Other ways you can raise awareness include:
• Posting information about elder abuse in your workplace or community center.
• Hosting an elder abuse awareness webinar or presentation.
• Wear purple, or a purple awareness ribbon, on June 15th, or throughout Elder Abuse Awareness month (Mother’s Day – Father’s Day).
• Finally, make a commitment to always report suspected abuse of an older or disabled adult by contacting Social Services or local law enforcement.
More information and resources are available at https://eldermistreatment.usc.edu/weaad-home/.