World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15 and this year’s theme is “Building Strong Support for Elders”. Each year, Old Colony Elder Services (OCES), a designated Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) in Massachusetts, works with individuals, organizations and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse. By working together and taking action to raise awareness, we can all help prevent elder abuse.
Did you know that an estimated five million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation every year? One in 10 Americans age 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse.
What are the risk factors?
Elder abuse encompasses more than physical or verbal abuse. It includes financial exploitation, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Self-neglect is also included; this is the term used when an older adult is unable, or unwilling, to care for themselves in areas of hygiene, nutrition and overall health. The most common risk factors for elder abuse are social isolation, poor physical health, and dementia.
OCES’ Protective Services Program Team works with older adults to prevent, eliminate or remedy situations that involve emotional, physical or sexual abuse; neglect by a caregiver; financial exploitation; or self–neglect. Elder abuse, similar to domestic violence, often occurs in the home. It is important to note that fear often keeps older adults from seeking help.
Older adults who are at risk for self-neglect or at risk of harm from others can receive assistance to keep them safe in their own homes. In these situations, OCES staff can resolve difficult matters by advocating for older adults and providing specific resources and services.
OCES encourages anyone who witnesses elder abuse to report it! To file a report of concern for an elder, call the Central Intake Unit (CIU) at 1-800-922-2275. For non-emergencies, a report may be filed online at https://fw1.harmonyis.net/MAAPSLiveIntake/. When filing a report you will be asked to provide information regarding your specific concern for the elder, as well as demographic, and psycho-social information. Once the report is made, if the elder resides in OCES’ service area, OCES will receive the report and determine if further investigation by a Protective Services Worker is needed.
Awareness is key to prevention
OCES focuses on educating people about the different forms of elder abuse; this is essential to preventing it from happening. In previous years, OCES raised awareness of elder abuse by holding “March Against Elder Abuse” events in Brockton and Plymouth. Last year, OCES held a virtual WEAAD event due to Covid-19.
Even during this time of social distancing, we can all still work to protect older adults by collaborating and building awareness about elder abuse.
This year, we invite you to join us in raising awareness of elder abuse by visiting our website for information about our WEAAD event, www.ocesma.org.
To learn more about WEAAD, visit https://eldermistreatment.usc.edu/weaad-home/.