Elder Abuse Awareness Month: Learn More and Take Action This June
As people age, their dependency on others may increase. From grocery shopping, household repairs, and transportation, to medication assistance, financial management and day to day care, this rise in the dependence on others brings a greater chance of mistreatment, neglect or abuse for older adults.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse may include physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse. It may also include financial abuse/exploitation, abandonment, and caregiver neglect.
Perpetrators of elder abuse can be anyone, a caregiver, a family member, or medical staff to name a few. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 10% of adults aged 65 and older will experience some form of elder abuse in a given year, with some older adults simultaneously experiencing more than one type of abuse.
Know the warning signs for elder abuse.
While there are many indications of abuse, here are a few examples that an older adult may be experiencing neglect, abuse, or mistreatment.
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions or burns;
- unexpected withdrawal from normal activities;
- a sudden change in alertness or unusual depression;
- strained or tense relationships;
- frequent arguments between a caregiver and older adult;
- sudden changes in financial situations;
- missing medications, money, or possessions; and,
- bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, or unusual weight loss.
These types of abuse only represent a part of what may occur to an older adult at home or in a healthcare, nursing home, assisted living, or community living setting.
The Consequences of Elder Abuse.
The trauma of elder abuse may result in many issues for many older adults. A deterioration in health, hospitalization, increased mortality, depression, social issues, and financial loss, can all be experienced by older adults in the aftermath of abuse or neglect. Victims and survivors are often fearful and anxious, having problems with trust around others. All of these factors can lead to diminished independence and a lower quality of life.
No one deserves to be abused. Many older people living with abuse may be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it or report it. This may especially hold true when the abuse is coming from a family member or caregiver.
Take Action on June 15th.
The older adult population is growing faster in the United States than younger populations, thus increasing the risk of elder abuse. However, by raising awareness of the risk factors and indications of elder abuse and neglect, communities may be better prepared to take action to protect older adults.
During Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th, join Someplace Safe in raising awareness in your community and helping to uncover solutions for the mistreatment and abuse of older adults. Some ideas include:
- Checking-in often on older adults in your life who may have few friends or family members.
- Listening to caregivers to understand their challenges. Provide over-burdened caregivers with support, options, and resources.
- Educating oneself and others about how to recognize and report elder abuse.
- Learning how the signs of elder abuse differ from the normal aging process.
- Checking out the Someplace Safe Facebook page throughout the month of June to find shareable resources and information.
If you suspect you or someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, contact law enforcement or Someplace Safe at 800.974.3359. Accessible services are available, including interpreters, live website chat, and text message. Visit www.someplacesafe.info for more information.
Sources (please visit for more information and resources):
NCEA - Research Statistics and Data (acl.gov)
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