Join Someplace Safe in Keeping Older Adults Safe this June During National Safety Month!
JUNE IS NATIONAL SAFETY MONTH:
Join Someplace Safe in Keeping Older Adults Safe as we Recognize
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th
Observed annually in June, National Safety Month focuses on reducing the leading causes of safety issues both in our homes and in our communities. This year, during National Safety Month, and in honor of World Elder Abuse Day, we focus on the safety of older adults, as well as the issue of Elder Abuse.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated annually in America and around the world on June 15th. Through WEAAD, awareness is raised regarding the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. In fact, approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse, with estimates ranging as high as 5 million elders abused each year.
There are many factors which make older adults particularly vulnerable to abuse. Social isolation, health problems, mental and cognitive impairment, disabilities, a lack of financial independence, and the dependence on others for transportation, errands, tasks and basic needs all increase older adult vulnerability. Perpetrators of elder abuse vary great, but most commonly are the elder’s children or grandchildren, other close family members, or spouses – as well as caregivers, or staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other residential facilities. Elder abuse varies greatly in type and severity and may include any of the following:
- Physical abuse: inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult.
- Sexual abuse: touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an older adult, when the older adult is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.
- Emotional abuse: verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.
- Confinement: restraining or isolating an older adult, other than for medical reasons.
- Passive neglect: a caregiver’s failure to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
- Willful deprivation: denying an older adult medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, and exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm.
- Financial exploitation: the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another.
Considering this, there are many warning signs of elder abuse that family members, caregivers, and community members may look for. Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns, bedsores, poor hygiene or unusual weight loss may indicate signs of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment. An unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, unusual depression, strained or tense relationships, and frequent arguments with caregivers may demonstrate the presence of emotional abuse. Finally, a sudden or drastic change in financials situations may indicate the financial abuse.
The good news is that there are a variety of ways older adults, and the caretakers/family/friends of older adults, may prevent abuse and stay safe. Consider the following tips:
- Take care of your health. Schedule routine medical appointments and seek treatment for any illnesses or conditions.
- Plan for your own future with a power of attorney, a living will, etc. so that you may address health care decisions in the present, to avoid confusion and family problems later. Seek independent advice from someone you trust before signing any documents.
- Stay active in the community and connected with friends and family to decrease social isolation.
- Post and open your own mail.
- Do not give personal information over the phone.
- Ask for written information about any offers, prizes, or charities and wait to respond until you have reviewed the information thoroughly.
- Do not let yourself be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, transferring funds, or making donations.
- Use direct deposit for all checks, if possible.
- Have access to your own phone.
- Keep medications in original containers, if possible.
- Do not let strangers into your home, especially if you are alone.
By taking these steps, and working together with older adults, we can increase safety, prevent elder abuse, and raise awareness in our communities. If you or someone you know has been victimized by elder abuse, please contact your local law enforcement agency, social service agency, or Someplace Safe.
For more information on National Safety month visit: https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/get-involved/national-safety-month.
For more information and resources on elder abuse visit: https://www.ncoa.org/. For more safety tips for older adults visit: https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/home-safety-tips-older-adults
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