What is Elder Abuse Awareness Day?
In 2006, the annual date of June 15 was designated as “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” by the International Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations. The Day serves as a call-to-action for families, advocates, lawyers, and other organizations to promote a better understanding of elder abuse and neglect by increasing the awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
Studies have illustrated that about one in ten individuals aged 60 and older in the United States have experienced some form elder abuse, and nearly 5 million elderly individuals experience abuse each year. However, despite its prevalence, elder abuse is a “silent” problem. Some data suggests that only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse is reported.
Cognitive impairment and social isolation are two of the most important factors that increase the risk of abuse to an elderly individual. Almost 50% of elders who suffer from dementia have experienced abuse or neglect, which increases disproportionally among older adults with higher rates of disabilities.
What Can I Do To Prevent Elder Abuse?
Preventing elder abuse and neglect requires vigilance, attention, and action. Be on the lookout for unusual or abrupt changes to your loved one’s physical, mental or financial statuses, and immediately report any suspected abuse pertaining to caregivers who are responsible for providing care to your loved one. Frequently checking in with your loved one is vital. Unfortunately, facilities will sometimes attempt to cover up resident injury. Signs of physical abuse can include:
- Strange or unexpected physical injuries
- Being left alone for extended periods without supervision
- Poor hygiene and/or unsafe living conditions
- Missing personal items, such as glasses, hearing aids, and medications
Mental or behavioral indicators of abuse can include:
- Sudden changes in mood, such as acting unusually confused, anxious, fearful, angry, or depressed
- Withdrawal and social isolation
- Unexplained lethargy
Financial abuse may also go undetected. Red flags to look out for include:
- Unexplained monetary transactions
- Executions of legal documents on behalf of the elder, such as a power of attorney, marriage certificate, and transferring of property
- Unable to access financial and legal records
With regards to financial abuse, try the following suggestions to reduce the risk of your loved one becoming a victim:
- Register for the National “Do Not Call” Registry
- Shred mail, bills, bank statements, and any other documents that have personal identifying information when no longer needed
- Refrain from giving out sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or banking information, over the phone
- Keep up-to-date with common scams
- Ensure that all of your loved one’s caregivers are properly screened and have been background checked
Indicators of elder abuse and neglect vary. It is important to keep a watchful eye and report any of these indicators of abuse as soon as possible. If you suspect that your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local law enforcement authorities immediately. You may also consider contacting Adult Protective Services or the appropriate governing state agency as soon as possible. You may also consider contacting an elder abuse attorney for a consultation. Yeroushalmi Law is dedicated to holding nursing homes accountable when patient injury results from abuse and neglect. Call us today for a no-cost consultation.