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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2011

Dignity. Respect. Safety.

“Elder abuse is an under recognized problem with devastating and even life threatening consequences.”

Every day, headlines throughout the U.S. paint a grim picture of seniors who have been abused, neglected, and exploited, often by people they trust the most. Abusers may be spouses, family members, personal acquaintances, or professionals in positions of trust; or opportunistic strangers who prey on the vulnerable.

How big is the problem? No one knows for certain because relatively few cases are identified. Research indicates that more than one in ten elder may experience some type of abuse, but only one in five cases or that someone has already reported a control over an older person’s fewer are reported.

Warning Signs

• Physical Abuse ‐ Slap marks, unexplained bruises, most pressure marks, and certain types of burns or blisters, such as cigarette burns

• Neglect ‐ Pressure ulcers, filth, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration

• Emotional Abuse ‐ Withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, or other unusual behavioral changes

• Sexual Abuse ‐ Bruises around the breasts or genital area and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases

• Financial Abuse/Exploitation ‐ Sudden change in finances and accounts, altered wills and trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, checks written as “loans” or “gifts,” and loss of property

What Can You Do to Prevent Elder Abuse?

• Report suspected mistreatment to your local adult protective services agency or law enforcement. Although a situation may have already been investigated, if you believe circumstances are getting worse, continue to speak out.

• Keep in contact – Talk with your older friends, neighbors, and relatives. Maintaining communication will help decrease isolation, a risk factor for mistreatment. It will also give them a chance to talk about any problems they may be experiencing.

• Be aware of the possibility of abuse – Look around and take note of what may be happening with your older neighbors and acquaintances. Do they seem lately to be withdrawn, nervous, fearful, sad, or anxious, especially around certain people, when they have not seemed so in the past?

• Contact your local Area Agency on Aging office to identify local programs and sources of support, such as Meals on Wheels. These programs help elders to maintain health, well‐being, and independence – a good defense against abuse.

• Volunteer – There are many local opportunities to become involved in programs that provide assistance and support for seniors.

• World Elder Abuse Awareness Day ‐ Elder abuse is a global issue. Contact your local aging services organizations to find out how your community will observe World Day. Help to raise awareness by talking about the issue.

If you would like more information, want to speak to our Elder Abuse Advocate or would like to help A Woman’s Place please contact us via email: sjames@awomansplace.org phone: 215.343.9241 x 117 or  Abuse Later in Life area of our website: http://www.awomansplace.org/abuse.htm

Excerpts taken from the National Center on Elder Abuse website:

http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Ncearoot/Main_Site/pdf/publication/NCEA_WhatIsAbuse-2010.pdf

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