June 15 marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a time to bring attention to this critical issue affecting older adults worldwide. Elder abuse can include physical, emotional, sexual, caregiver neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation. It impacts seniors from all walks of life.
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006 in an effort to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for our communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to the principle of justice for all.
When we come together, we can prevent elder abuse from happening. We can put support services in place, and direct community resources toward addressing elder abuse. Our country must reaffirm our commitment to justice and create a sturdy structure of support that will benefit us all as we get older.
Elder abuse is widespread. Every year an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported, in part because so many of our communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it. Research suggests that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.
MVES Protective Services Department plays a proactive role in addressing elder abuse by not only investigating cases but by proactively offering education and trainings in the 11 communities served. MVES has developed a strong rapport with mandated reporters of elder abuse such as police officers and hospitals. The agency also educates seniors themselves by offering seminars and resources. The goal is to build awareness while enabling seniors to remain safe and independent living in the community.
If you suspect elder abuse of a loved one or are being abused yourself, please call the state’s Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275 or file online at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/report-elder-abuse