World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th as designated by the United Nations General Assembly. The day shines a light globally on the problem of neglect, physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders.
The intent of the day is to educate people on the challenges and opportunities presented by an aging population. It brings together elders, their caregivers, academics, national and local government and the private sector to work together on the best ways to prevent elder abuse, increase reporting, and develop policy that benefits elders.
This day represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generation
However, during this time of a pandemic, we have more of our elders isolated with social distancing and stay-at-home orders in effect. People are even less connected to the community than they already were. This can be an opportunity for abusers to take advantage and further isolate someone.
If family members or friends are unable to visit as frequently, the warning signs of abuse may not be recognized.
Elder abuse occurs in many parts of the world with little recognition. Often times the problem is hidden from public view and considered a private matter. This has contributed to the under-reporting and underestimating of abuse.
With the global population of people aged 60 years and older increasing, we know that the incidence of abuse towards older people will increase.
This pandemic may have modified some operations or support that agencies like Elder Services of Merrimack Valley-North Shore can provide so we need the help of all in our communities to help in the protection of our most vulnerable.
We need all of us to reach out regularly to those who may be at risk and are isolated. If there is any reason to suspect abuse, report it immediately.
This is what YOU can do to prevent elder abuse and neglect:
1.Listen to seniors and their caregivers
2.Intervene when you suspect elder abuse and report it.
3.Educate others about how to recognize and report elder abuse
As an elder, how can you protect yourself against elder abuse?
◾Make sure your financial and legal affairs are in order. If they are not, enlist professional help to get them in order, with the assistance of a trusted friend or relative if necessary.
◾Keep in touch with family and friends and avoid becoming isolated.
◾If you are unhappy with the care you are receiving, whether it is in your own home or in a care facility, speak up. Tell someone you trust and ask that person to report the abuse, neglect, or substandard care to an elder abuse helpline or long-term care ombudsman, or make the call yourself.
Elder Services of Merrimack Valley-North Shore protective service caseworkers investigate allegations of abuse or neglect of individuals aged 60 or over. If you think that a loved one or another elder you know is being subjected to any kind of abuse, please call the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275.
Anyone can report elder abuse. If you are concerned about an older adult (age 60 or older), and have reason to believe he/she is a victim of elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation call the Massachusetts-based Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275. Every community in Massachusetts is covered by a designated Protective Service Agency. All reports will be referred to and handled by the designated Protective Service Agency. The agency will determine if an investigation is warranted and if so investigate the situation and determine the best course of action to alleviate the risk. All calls are confidential.
Our Information and Referral Services department is available to assist our consumers, all professionals, and our community partner agencies during this Coronavirus crisis. Our dedicated staff is working remotely but nothing changes in the ways they can help.
To reach our Information and Referral Services Department in Lawrence please call 978-683-7747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne’s background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. “I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you’ll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to Elder Services’ audience.”