Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated in America and around the world, according to the Administration for Community Living (ACL). But as a society, protecting the elderly is our job all year long.
WEAAD is to raise awareness about the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, according to acl.gov. The website stated that as many as one in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year, and only one in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities. Older Americans are vital, contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. WEAAD reminds us that, as in a just society, all of us have a critical role to play to focus attention on elder justice.
The ACL announced the WEAAD 2019 theme, “Lifting up Voices for World Elder Abuse Awareness,” is centered on unifying the shared values of elder justice and responding to violence against women to bring to the forefront the lived experiences of older people around the globe.
WEAAD is an annual international United Nations observance day on the same date each year, and the day came about as a result of the United Nations resolution 66/127, according to awarenessdays.com.
The United Nations website stated that the global population of people aged 60 years and older would more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050, and the amount of elder abuse can be expected to increase along with it.
The National Center on Elder Abuse website states that “elder abuse” refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person. Elder abuse takes many forms, including neglect or isolation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse and exploitation and emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats), according to the website.
The website stated that the policies and practices in the U.S. make it hard for older people to stay involved with and connected to our communities as they age, and as a result, older people are more likely to experience social isolation, which increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect. The website stated that there’s a need to design stronger societal supports to keep the elderly connected and protect them from abuse, whether financial, emotional, physical or sexual.
Addressing a root cause, like social isolation, makes it less likely that people will neglect themselves, and older adults who are socially connected and protected from harm are less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to go into nursing homes and less likely to die, according to the website. It went on to explain that communities can and must create healthier and safer living environments for older adults, including their homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The Marshall County Department of Human Resources (DHR) website states the following facts about adult/elder abuse:
• Abuse is a painful reality for thousands of Alabama’s elderly and disabled adults.
• The elderly population is the fastest growing segment of our society.
• The hidden problem of adult abuse is on the rise as elders are living longer and requiring more care from others.
• Adult abuse often occurs among families experiencing stress.
• Most adults desire to continue living independently.
• Although adult abuse usually occurs in a family setting, health care or social service providers may abuse those in their care.
• Adult abuse can occur in all racial and ethnic groups and among families in all income levels.
• Adults often suffer humiliation and embarrassment whenever they are abused, neglected or exploited.
• Regardless of age or ability, each individual deserves to be safe from harm by those who come in contact with them on a regular basis.
To report Adult Abuse, call your Marshall County DHR office at 256-582-7100, the Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-458-7214 or contact local law enforcement.
Nickie Simpson is a staff writer for The Reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.