The Impact of Elder Abuse: What you should know

More than 41 million Americans are 65 or older, and elders comprise a growing proportion of the U.S. population.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected, and exploited.

Elders throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation, funds that could have been used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, and medical care.

No one is immune to abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It occurs in every demographic, and can happen to anyone— a family member, a neighbor, even you.

It is estimated that only about 1 in 5 of these crimes are ever discovered.

Elders who experience mistreatment and self-neglect face a greater risk of dying sooner.

Survivors of elder mistreatment suffer significantly higher levels of psychological distress than non-victims.

June 15th was designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations in 2006. The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect. In addition, WEAAD is in support of the United Nations International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Elder mistreatment will not stop on its own. Someone else needs to step in and help. Many older people are too ashamed to report abuse. Or, they are afraid if they make a report it will get back to the caregiver, and the abuse will get worse. If you think someone you know is being abused—physically, emotionally, or financially—talk to him or her when the two of you are alone. You could say you think something is wrong and you’re worried. Offer to take him or her to get help; for instance, a local adult protective service agency.

If you or someone you know is in a life threatening situation or immediate danger, call 911 or the local police or sheriff.

To learn more and get involved call the Elder Abuse Helplines and Hotlines: 1-800-677-1116 or visit:
National Council for Aging Care http://www.aginginplace.org/guide-to-recognizing-elder-abuse/
National Institute on Aging www.nia.nih.gov
National Institute of Justice www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/crime/elder-abuse/welcome.htm
www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention

Sources:
U.S. Census Facts for Features: Older Americans Month: 2013; Center for Disease Control; National Institute on Aging; Lachs MS, Williams CS, O’Brien S, Pillemer KA, Charlson ME. (1998). The mortality of elder mistreatment. Journal of the American Medical Association; 280(5): 428-432. 8); Comijs, H.C, Penninx, B.W.J.H., Knipscheer, K.P.M., and van Tilburg, W. (1999), Psychological Distress in Victims of Elder Mistreatment: The Effects of Social Support and Coping. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 54B(4): P240-P245.

Spring 2014

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