Annually, close to 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, or exploited. Older Americans lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more every year due to elder financial abuse and exploitation. Unfortunately, it happens in every demographic and can affect anyone—a family member, a neighbor, even you. It is estimated that only one in five of these crimes are discovered.
On June 15, 2006, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization launched World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEEAD). WEEAD provides an opportunity for communities to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older adults. By understanding elder abuse, we can provide a safer community for all.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is the intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted person that brings harm to an older adult. It comes in many forms including neglect, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. Each state defines elder abuse differently. Click here for more on Kentucky’s laws on elder abuse and financial exploitation.
What causes Elder Abuse?
Our communities make it difficult for people to stay involved as they age. As a result, older adults can become socially isolated, which increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect. Elder abuse can happen in a person’s home, in senior living communities, and in hospitals. Dementia, mental health issues/substance abuse, social isolation, and poor physical health can put individuals at risk.
How can we prevent Elder Abuse?
Talk about it. Building awareness will increase the identification and reporting of abuse. Additionally, provide older people who experience abuse with a safe environment to speak out, which can drastically increase reporting.
Know the signs. The National Institute on Aging has a list of red flags.
Reducing isolation can help help prevent abuse. ElderServe offers Friendly Visitor and TeleCare programs, in which volunteers connect with older adults. Contact Megan Cantwell for more information at 502.785.0493.
ElderServe also offers Crime Victim services, which helps Jefferson County adults 60 and older who have suffered financial exploitation, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, robbery, and other crimes. Our advocates can assist older adults with filing police reports, getting protective orders, working with police, and finding short-term emergency housing. All information is confidential and the service is free. For more information, contact Paul Troy at 502.736.3829.
At ElderServe, we’ve seen firsthand how something as simple as a concerned neighbor can make a real difference in the quality of a senior’s life. Awareness and vigilance are key to protecting older adults, and we are all a part of the solution.