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June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Fri, Jun 14th 2013
Millie has relied on her nephew to help her with daily activities since her husband died last year. This arrangement seemed to be working well, and her friends never noticed anything unusual until about a month ago. Millie came to church with a dark bruise on her arm. When they asked her what happened, she quickly said that she was just clumsy and then changed the subject. Since then, Millie has become more withdrawn and unkempt. She has also lost weight. Her nephew is rarely seen except when he is sitting out back drinking with friends.
Did you know that over 2 million older Americans like Millie are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation every year? This is a staggering number, and yet it only accounts for reported cases of elder mistreatment. Experts estimate that for every reported case of elder abuse, another five cases exist that are never reported.
It is for this reason that on June 15th, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) - a joint governmental organization consisting of the Administration on Aging and two federal offices that address disabilities - will be raising awareness about elder abuse on the 8th Annual Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Here are some facts that the ACL hopes to sear into the minds of the public:
- Elder abuse can take many forms, some of which are more difficult to detect than others. It can include physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, neglect, fraud, and financial exploitation.
- Elder abuse is considered a public health crisis because of the sheer number of older adults who are affected.
- Elder abuse knows no boundaries - it affects elders regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other demographic factors.
I urge you to learn more about elder abuse, how to detect and prevent it, and what to do if you suspect an older adult is being abused. Here are some tips and resources to get started:
Unfortunately, there are far too many stories like Millie's in our world. The 8th Annual Elder Abuse Awareness Day gives us a chance to do something about it. Let's work together to make elder abuse disappear into the social fabric that created it, once and for all.