June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). In 2006, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations launched the first observance 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 to reaffirm our country’s commitment to the principle of justice for all.
WHAT IS ELDER ABUSE?
Elder abuse is intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that causes (or potentially causes) harm to an older adult. It takes on many forms, including the following:
- Neglect or isolation
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse or exploitation
- Emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats)
WHO IS AT RISK?
Any older person can be at risk, across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races. However, some are more susceptible to experience abuse or neglect than others, and based on available information, women and people 80 and older are more likely to experience abuse. Here are some common risk factors:
- Mental health or substance abuse issues of an older person and/or a perpetrator
- Social isolation
- Poor physical health
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
- Talk with family members, friends, and professionals that you trust and plan for your future
- Be cautious of unscrupulous people who target seniors and will target and take advantage of them
- Avoid isolation by keeping in touch regularly with others
- Check out the many activities, classes, programs and senior centers open to you through Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia
WHAT DO I DO IF I SUSPECT ABUSE?
Report your concerns. Most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. In case of immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, you can call Senior Services at 757-461-9481 or Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 to be connected to your local reporting agency. For more information on agencies that can help, visit www.ncea.acl.gov and click on Get Help.