Every day, headlines throughout the U.S. paint a grim picture of seniors who have been abused, neglected, and exploited; often by people they trust the most. Abusers may be spouses, family members, personal acquaintances, or professionals in positions of trust; or opportunistic strangers who prey on the vulnerable.
How big is the problem? No one really knows. Relatively few cases are identified, as elders often are reluctant to report the mistreatment. Experts estimate that only one in five cases or fewer are reported, which means that very few seniors who have been abused get the help they need.
One thing is for certain: elder abuse can happen to any older individual – your neighbor, your loved one – it can even happen to you.
Today, June 15th, is the 6th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The National Center on Elder Abuse urges individuals, families, community groups, organizations, and businesses to “Join Them” by participating in elder abuse awareness and prevention efforts. There are many ways to become involved, from attending or organizing a World Day event, to visiting an older neighbor who lives alone, to volunteering for a program that benefits seniors, to organizing a fundraiser to support a local abuse prevention initiative.
- June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day!
Is your community sponsoring a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event, such as a
candlelight vigil, senior expo, rally, or other public forum? Show your support by attending
and encouraging your friends and family to participate. Volunteer to distribute pamphlets or
brochures. (You can download NCEA Fact Sheets by visiting www.ncea.aoa.gov ).
- On World Day, make it a priority to visit an older friend or relative who lives in a nursing
home, assisted living community, or memory care community.
- Purple is the color that has been designated for elder abuse awareness by the International
Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Wear purple in recognition of World Elder
Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th.
Isolation is a known risk factor for elder abuse, neglect, and self‐neglect. But reducing isolation
is as simple as sparing a little time to reach out to our seniors. By reaching out through an
informal visit, or by volunteering with one of the many programs that provide support to older
individuals, we can help to reduce the risk of elder abuse.
- Commit to visiting an older friend, family member, or neighbor who lives alone, or invite
them to a family activity, such as a Little League Game.
- Ask an older acquaintance to share their talents by teaching you or your children a new skill,
such as knitting, or how to bake a favorite recipe.
- Volunteer at a local chapter of Meals on Wheels or pledge to commit to one day a month.
Home‐delivered meals can be helpful in preventing self‐neglect. This also allows the
volunteer to observe if the senior is managing well at home, or if he or she may need other
Ways to Promote Senior Involvement
- Become a Senior Companion. Individuals 60 or over can become a companion to help a frail elder retain his or her independence. To learn more about this program, visit:
- Become a classroom “Grandparent.” Many aging services sponsor programs that place volunteers in classrooms. The grandparent shares in classroom activities, and helps both teacher and students by providing a little extra attention, assistance, and support. The program not only strengthens the educational experience, but fosters intergenerational respect.
- Bring on the dogs, cats, and other friendly companions! Many local animal shelters “loan” their “guests” out for pet therapy excursions to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
- Research demonstrates that interacting with pets can enhance physical and emotional health.
To learn more about the National Center on Elder Abuse visit: http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/NCEAroot/Main_Site/About/Initiatives/Join_Us_Campaign.aspx