June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an opportunity for us to raise awareness of senior abuse and neglect, and to show all of us how to watch out for and respond to cases of abuse and neglect. As Americans, we believe in justice for all, yet older members of our society are abused or neglected each day across this country.
Elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person. The abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, neglect or financial. Elder abuse is a rampant, yet severely under-reported social problem, affecting an estimated one in six older adults and costing more than $36 billion dollars each year.
Social isolation is a leading contributor to elder abuse and it is expected that the COVID-related lock downs will have increased both the number of cases and the number of unreported occurrences. We can all help by learning to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect and by staying connected with older family members, neighbors, and friends. The warning signs of abuse are varied, but may include unexplained bruises, depression or withdrawal from activities, disheveled appearance, confusion, or an unexpected inability to pay bills. If you have a concern, there is anonymous hotline to call for help.
Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline
Each of us has a role to play in creating safe, supportive communities that people want to live and grow old in. It is time to commit to ending all forms of prejudice, neglect, and discrimination experienced by our older citizens.
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