Did you know that each year thousands of individuals aged 60+ experience abuse? If you find yourself shaking your head, you are not alone. Many Americans simply have no idea as to the extent of elder abuse occurring on a day-to-day basis. That is why we acknowledge June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
At our Anthem Memory Care communities we are very much aware of the importance of keeping our elderly population safe. So much so that it is part of our mission to “protect, engage and love” our residents. Furthermore, we believe that protecting our elders, especially those who are cognitively impaired, is everybody’s business.
So, what do you need to know?
First of all, it is important to understand that elder abuse is not always physical. The National Institute on Aging identifies several ways in which an older individual’s wellbeing can be compromised:
- Emotional abuse. Yelling, threatening, saying things that are hurtful or not allowing the person to have visitors or talk with them on the phone.
- Neglect. Lack of responding to the needs of the person. Neglecting to provide their medications, not feeding them, or not providing access to healthcare.
- Abandonment. Leaving an older adult alone to fend for themselves without planning for his/her care.
- Sexual abuse. Forcing the person to be part of or witness sexual acts.
- Financial abuse. Stealing money, forging checks, commandeering their social security payments or using their credit cards without permission. It can also include changing names on their will, insurance policy, title to their house or bank accounts.
- Physical. The most obvious form of abuse involves bodily harm caused by pushing, slapping, hitting, and restraining the adult against their will either by locking them into a room or tying them down on a chair or sofa.
As hard as it is to learn about these horrific abuses, it is important to be aware of them. Most of us have an older relative or know someone who is reliant upon others for assistance and guidance. And we, too, may eventually have the same needs.
With that in mind, here are some resources to learn more about elder abuse and how you can do your part to help:
Finally, if you witness physical elder abuse, call 911. If you have a suspicion of abuse you should report it to the National Center on Elderly Abuse. You can find the center in your state here: https://ncea.acl.gov/Resources/State.aspx.
The generations of amazing individuals who have come before us deserve respect and dignity. They raised families, had skills and interests, and worked hard to make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren.
So, in addition to celebrating their lives we owe it to them to keep them safe and protected and to help ensure that they can continue to live their best lives, full of peace and joy.