June 15, 2022 General Interest
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15
June 15, 2022, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization created the first WEAAD in 2006. The purpose of the day is to bring awareness and understanding to the important public health and human rights issue that is abuse of older adults. The goal is to encourage other community members and organizations to take action in raising awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults.
What Is Elder Abuse
About 1 in 10 adults age 60+ in America have experienced abuse, and elder abuse is unfortunately underreported. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Neglect and exploitation are other forms of elder abuse. Physical abuse includes using force to either injure or threaten an older person. Emotional abuse can include threatening, isolating, rejecting, verbally attacking, or belittling an older adult – anything that causes mental anguish for them. Sexual abuse involves forcing, tricking, threatening, or coercing someone who does not or cannot consent to sexual contact. Exploitation could look like theft, fraud, or misusing authority to get control over the older adult’s money or other property. Neglect is when someone fails or refuses to provide for the older adult’s needs (whether they’re emotional, physical, or safety-related).
Why World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Is Important
It’s important to note that elder abuse does not just impact older adults. Additionally, a society that tolerates ageism enables abusers. It can create biases against older adults who deserve the same opportunity to thrive as people of every age. If we can all be on the lookout for elder abuse, it will be easier for all of us as a society to identify, address, and prevent abuse. This creates a safer world for all of us as we continue to age.
How to Prevent Elder Abuse
Community support plays a big role in preventing elder abuse. Some things you can do to prevent elder abuse include:
- Help combat loneliness and isolation – check in with the older adults in your life to make sure they’re doing okay.
- Provide respite breaks for caregivers.
- Encourage bank employees to learn how to detect financial abuse.
- Encourage doctors to ask their older patients about any possible abuse in their lives.
- Pay attention for signs of elder abuse.
- Empower older adults so they know there is help for them if they experience abuse.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Because elder abuse can take many different forms, there are many different signs to be on the lookout for. These may include:
- Unusual behavior or sleep changes
- Increased fear, anxiety, isolation, or depression
- Broken bones, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, or burns
- Torn, stained, or bloody clothing
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
- Poor living conditions including dirtiness and poor nutrition or dehydration
- Lack of medical assistance including glasses, walkers, hearing aids, teeth, and medications
- Unexplained changes in bank balance
- Unexplained changes in how their money is managed (or by whom)
- Sudden changes in a will, Power of Attorney, or other important documents
- Fraudulent charges or signatures on important documents
- Unpaid bills
Resources and How to Report Elder Abuse
If you think you notice signs of elder abuse, you should report it immediately. As always, if you or someone you know is in a life-threatening situation and/or immediate danger, do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1. Other helpful programs include:
- Adult Protective Services (APS) Website
- Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Website
- Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline: Website or 1-833-586-0107
- Eldercare Locator: Website or 1-800-677-1116
- National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA): Website
More information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and preventing abuse in older adults can be found on the USC Center for Elder Justice’s website. More resources (both in Wisconsin and nationwide) can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.
If you suspect Medicare fraud, abuse, or errors, you can also contact the Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol at email@example.com or 888-818-2611.