The United Nations General Assembly has designated June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The event was established in order to put a global focus on the physical, emotional, and financial abuse of the older population. The goal is to help communities to recognize the signs of elder abuse and for governments to create policies to help protect the elderly from this type of behavior.
What constitutes elder abuse? It is “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult,” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Do you know the forms of elder abuse, and what to look for in a situation involving someone you know or love?
Signs of Elder Abuse
Physical Abuse:could include striking, hitting, beating, scratching, biting, choking, suffocating, shoving, shaking
Sexual Abuse or Abusive Sexual Conduct
Emotional or Psychological Abuse:verbal or nonverbal behavior that results in anguish, mental distress or fear
Neglect:failure to protect from harm or to provide basic medical care and nutrition, hygiene, clothing, etc.
Financial Exploitation:the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older person’s resources by a caregiver or person in a trusting relationship to benefit someone else. This includes the forging of documents, misuse of funds, theft of money or material possessions, and coercion to surrender money or items. Even the improper use of power of attorney or guardianship fall into this category.
WEAAD was developed to highlight this growing concern in our society. And when we say growing, the numbers tell the story. The National Institutes of Health reported that worldwide, 8.5% of people are 65 and older (more than 617 million people). By 2050, this percentage will jump to nearly 17% (1.6 billion people).
In the United States alone, studies show 1 in 10 individuals aged 60 and older have experienced some type of elder abuse. And what’s worse, experts have stated that for each case of abuse or neglect that is reported, many others remain unreported.
A high percentage of abusers tend to be those individuals who are entrusted to the well-being of the older person, including family members, caregivers, and financial advisors.
Report Elder Abuse
If you suspect that someone is suffering from elder abuse, do not ignore the situation. Get involved. Talk to the ones who you think are responsible for causing a problem. If you feel like you cannot handle the matter, you do not have to handle on your own. Consider assistance from a governmental agency. Check our Resources page on our Estate and Trust Dispute Resource Center of Ohio blog for more information. Consider contacting a lawyer specializing in elder law for advice.
Elder Abuse Cuyahoga County
The Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) has an Elder Abuse Hotline: 216-420-6700, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. DSAS is the provider of Adult Protective Services for the county and is to protect and help adults ages 60 and older who might be victims of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation.
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