by Rebecca Silverman, JWI Intern
Saturday, June 15th marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, shedding light on the mistreatment of elderly people in communities around the globe, as well as the need for more comprehensive data on the prevalence of this issue. With a steady increase of the world’s aging population, elder abuse will continue to be a growing problem, having far-reaching effects on the health, safety, and economic stability of elderly people.
Elder abuse, which can take the form of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or financial exploitation, can occur anywhere, from the confines of someone’s home to an assisted living facility. This abuse is most often carried out by people close to the elder, including healthcare professionals, friends, and even spouses and children. In fact, the most comprehensive study on elder abuse found that almost 90% of abusers in these cases were family members. (1998)
But overall data about the prevalence of elder abuse is still limited. The National Research Council Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect estimates that between 1 million and 2 million Americans ages 65 and older have been mistreated by someone they depended on. Yet the New York City Elder Abuse Network found that only 1 in 24 cases are ever reported. (2010)
With more reliable data, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and advocates against elder abuse can understand how to help those at risk and how to effectively educate others to prevent this issue.
Concerned about elder abuse in your family and community? Here are some important tips and resources:
- Listen to the issues and discomforts that both seniors and caregivers face to prevent matters from escalating to abuse.
- Intervene when you suspect elder abuse. Even if you’re unsure, it’s safer to investigate a situation where someone may be in danger.
- Educate others about how to recognize and report elder abuse.
- Report elder abuse. If you are a victim of elder abuse or know someone in danger, contact your state’s Adult Protective Services.
- Eldercare Locator is a public service by the Administration on Aging that provides resources for adults and their families.
- The Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention through the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in Riverdale, NY provides emergency shelter for victims of elder abuse, emotional support, psychological counseling, healthcare, legal advocacy and representation for victims of elder abuse.
JWI recognizes the urgent need for more data on elder abuse. Beyond the number of people at risk, this information informs how we educate others to prevent abuse and how we devise solutions to eradicate the mistreatment of elderly people around the world.
You can find more information here about the JWI’s work to end elder abuse.