Today (June 15th) is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Designated by the United Nations (UN), WEAAD aims to bring global attention to the issue of physical, emotional and financial abuse against our aging population.
The world is experiencing major demographic changes. Projections indicate that by 2050, the global population over the age of 60 will be higher than the number of people under 60. We must acknowledge the problems and challenges that face the elderly. Elder abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation are significant issues facing our senior citizens.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) offers several suggestions for things that anyone can do to help prevent elder abuse. Here are a few:
- Understand the signs of elder abuse and neglect. (Please read further for these signs.)
- Call or visit an elderly loved one and ask how they’re doing.
- Ask your bank manager to train tellers on how to detect elder financial abuse.
- Ask your religious leader to give a talk about elder abuse or put a message in the bulletin/newsletter.
- Volunteer to be a visitor in a nursing home or to a homebound senior you know.
- Join the Ageless Alliance, which connects people of all ages across the U.S. who stand for the dignity of older Americans and the elimination of elder abuse. It’s free! www.agelessalliance.org
More than half a million reports of abuse against elderly Americans are filed with authorities in the U.S. each year – and millions more cases go unreported. Elder abuse tends to take place where the senior lives. In the majority of cases, the abuser is someone the senior knows.
Signs of physical abuse:
- Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts or scars
- Broken bones, sprains or dislocations
- Drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication
- Broken eyeglasses or frames
- Caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the elderly person alone
Signs of emotional abuse:
- Threatening, belittling or intimidating behavior that you witness from a caregiver
- Behavior from the elder person that looks like dementia such as rocking, sucking or mumbling to themselves
Signs of sexual abuse:
- Bruises around breasts or genitals
- Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
Signs of financial abuse:
- Significant withdrawals from the senior’s accounts
- Sudden changes in the senior’s financial condition
- Items or cash missing from the home
- Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney and the like
- Unpaid bills
- Unnecessary services, goods or subscriptions
To report suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation in Georgia, call 888-774-0152. If the situation is life threatening or dangerous, call 911 or the local police for immediate help.