World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15, 2019. The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations launched WEAAD on June 15, 2006 with the purpose “to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older people by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.”1
Elder abuse includes caregiver and/or self-neglect, financial exploitation, emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), about one in 10 Americans who are age 60 or older have experienced at least one form of abuse.
There are several factors that may put an elder at risk, such as social isolation (due to loss of family members/friends, or due to illness), family relationships that are strained, reduced cognitive abilities, financial instability, or even inadequate funds for care. It is not always easy to recognize abuse in elders, and isolation and fear often keep older adults from seeking help.
Increasing awareness of elder abuse is imperative. In fiscal year 2018, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs received 34,216 reports state-wide.
At Old Colony Elder Services (OCES), our Protective Services Program staff works with older adults or their designees to prevent, eliminate or remedy situations involving emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect by a caregiver, financial exploitation and/or self–neglect. Older adults who are at risk of harm from others, as well as those whose own behaviors jeopardize their safety, can receive assistance to keep them safe in their own homes. OCES’ staff can advocate for older adults in these situations and provide services and resources to resolve these difficult matters. All calls and reports are confidential.
Anyone can report elder abuse. If you are concerned about an older adult (age 60 or older), and have reason to believe he/she is a victim of elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation call the Massachusetts-based Elder Abuse Hotline (centralized intake) at 1-800-922-2275. Once the report is taken by Centralized Intake, they will forward those reports to the applicable local Protective Services Agency (OCES) for screening, investigations and service planning for elders in our community. For more information on elder abuse contact OCES at 508-584-1561 or www.ocesma.org.
Working together, we can continue to raise awareness and help prevent elder abuse. Please join us at our WEAAD events: June 13 in Brockton and June 20 in Plymouth. Call Lisa at OCES for more information, (508) 584-1561, extension 220.
For fact sheets about recognizing and preventing elder abuse, visit the WEAAD webpage at https://eldermistreatment.usc.edu/weaad-home/about/.
Sources:1USC Center on Elder Mistreatment. (2017.) World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. https://eldermistreatment.usc.edu/weaad-home/