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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Every year on June 15th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated in America and around the world. Through WEAAD, many people and organizations around the world raise awareness about the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
Elder Abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older people. It is an issue that needs to be brought to people’s attention. We do this by providing awareness to the public through various forums, social events, publications, and media. It is so important for people to understand what elder abuse is, the behaviors of elder abuse, who causes it, who are the victims, and who to call!!!!
The definition of Elder Abuse is a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.
Elder Abuse is Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Financial Exploitation, Active Neglect, Passive Neglect, and Self Neglect.
Elder Abuse is under reported. For every 1 case of elder abuse that gets reported 23 cases go unreported. The number for Financial Exploitation is even worse. For every 1 case of Financial Exploitation reported 44 go unreported.
Elder Abuse happens to the people most vulnerable. Vulnerable people are those with decreased physical health and mobility. They are the ones who have increased confusion, forgetfulness, and a gradual decline in mental acuity. They are the ones isolated from family, friends, and neighbors. They are the ones who are lonely. They are the people who do not know how or where to seek help. They are the ones more trusting of others. They are the ones who lack knowledge or understanding about new technology. And they are the ones who fear losing their independence and dignity.
The Perpetrators of Abuse are usually someone a victim knows. They are family members. They are spouses or partners. They are caregivers. They are persons in position of trust/authority such as power of attorneys.
But some perpetrators are strangers who target older adults for their age, their perceived frailty, and their funds/property. Those people are the scammers who take a victim’s identity and those are the people who are fraudulent and convince people to send them money for phony sweepstakes, IRS Fraud, Reverse Mortgage Fraud, and they are the Unscrupulous contractors or salespeople.
What can we do to help???
Maintain close ties with vulnerable friends, relatives, and neighbors. If you suspect someone may be abused and may need help, please reach out to your local county agencies. Every county in New York State has Adult Protective Services.
Call the NYS OCFS Adult Services Helpline at 1-844-697-3505
Additional Services available to help vulnerable adults and their families are provided by the Aging Network and can offer services to help a vulnerable adult live safely.
Elder Abuse is happening in our communities and it is up to all of us to help those who are suffering. We need to come together to bring awareness and change and provide services to those who need us the most.