World Elder Abuse Awareness Day highlights seniors facing mistreatment
The most alarming thing about elder abuse is that most abuse comes from family members or people they trust. In addition, they face mistreatment at home or in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes or assisted living. So, we must work together to protect elderly citizens and ensure a safe living environment for them.Posted — Updated
About 1 in 6 people aged sixty or above all over the world have faced some form of abuse in recent years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Elder abuse is a global social problem affecting the Health and Human Rights of millions of seniors.
The scenario is not that great in the USA either since 1 in 10 seniors (approximately 5 million older adults) are subject to abuse every year. Keeping these stats in mind, the United Nations (UN) launched the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006, to raise awareness among communities worldwide to prevent elderly abuse.
In this blog, we will discuss World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022, key facts about elder abuse, its types, its signs, and how we can raise awareness in the community and prevent them from happening. So, if you have a senior loved one at home or in a retirement community, make sure you check out these facts and help your elderly relative facing similar issues.
Elder Abuse Fact Sheet
Elder abuse is a pressing issue worldwide and has some data backing these concerns. Let’s take a look at some of the key facts about elder abuse:
- An estimated 5 million older adults suffer abuse every year in the USA.
- Around 10-16% of older adults experience some form of exploitation, including psychological and physical abuse.
- Elder abuse has many types, and the most common form is neglect (60%). Other forms include physical harm, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, verbal assaults, etc.
- An approximate $2.9 billion has resulted in losses due to financial abuse of older people.
- In the USA, the rate of elderly abuse was 8% in 1950, but currently, it doubled to 16.9% in 2021. Furthermore, the rate is predicted to reach 22% by 2050.
- According to a CDC report based on nonfatal assaults and homicide data during 2002-2016, men had higher rates of both types of abuse (107.8 vs. 50.4 and 3.16 vs. 1.53 respectively) compared to women.
- About 64% of staff in different care facilities have admitted to perpetrating some form of elder abuse.
- WHO suggests that at least 2 in 3 staff in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have committed abuse in 2021.
- 24.3% of nursing home residents have faced physical abuse at least once.
- According to NCBI, the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the elder abuse rate.
- Most of the abuse is committed by trusted people like family members, friends, or caregivers.
- Only 1 in 24 elder abuse cases get reported to police or other authorities.
- Elder abuse can lead to long-term health consequences and serious physical injuries.
- The elderly population is expected to double from 2015 to 2050 and hit the 2 billion mark.
- The number of abused seniors is predicted to reach 320 million by 2050.
History of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
What is Elder Abuse?
In simple words, elder abuse is mistreating, neglecting, or exploiting any older individual (60 or above) by their trusted person or group of people. It can be a single incident or re-occurring issue. These acts of abuse can cause or create the risk of injuries, distress, and psychological damage to an older adult. The seven common forms of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse (beating, pushing, slapping, burning, killing, etc.)
- Emotional abuse (verbal abuse, disrespect, threat, etc.)
- Sexual abuse (non-consensual sexual contact of any form)
- Neglect (lack of protection, negligence of personal care and hygiene, etc.)
- Abandonment (getting abandoned by family, legal guardian, or caregiver)
- Financial abuse (getting scammed, unauthorized fund transfer, forgery, improper/illegal use of any assets, etc.)
- Self-neglect (inability to perform daily tasks or take care of themselves)
Signs of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can go unnoticed if not paid close attention to their changed behavior or appearance. So, it is crucial to understand and identify the warning signs of all forms of elder abuse. It can be life-saving for your elderly loved ones. Below are some of the signs of different types of elder abuse:
- Bruises or blackening of any body part
- Broken bones or sprains
- Pain in joints or muscles
- High fever
- Damaged items such as eyeglasses, furniture, etc.
- Any other form of unexplained injuries
- Mood swings
- Self-isolation or avoiding interaction
- Being depressed and withdrawn
- Looking sad or anxious
- Self-harm tendency
- Skipping meals, not sleeping
- Use of power and control by the spouse
- Unexpected sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Bruises, pain or bleeding in genitals and private parts
- Looking anxious, disturbed, or withdrawn
- Torn/stained clothing or missing clothing items
- Inappropriate verbal or physical exchange between caregiver and the senior
- Lack of medical supplies and supervision
- Bedsores, worsened condition, untreated injuries
- Lack of personal hygiene maintenance
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Unsafe living situations such as no heating, plumbing, etc.
- Looking sad, downcast, lost, scared, or anxious
- Looking malnourished or unkept
- Depression, panic attacks
- Poor hygiene
- Withdrawals and isolation
- Sudden change in the financial situation
- Appearing secretive or scared
- Money or other valuables missing
- Changes in legal or financial documents (e.g., wills or titles)
- Contact with suspicious parties/individuals
- Unable to access bank accounts or financial records
- Suspicious financial transactions
- Sudden weight loss or looking frail
- Unkempt clothing and appearance
- Lack of food and medical supplies
- Poor living situation (e.g., no running water, dirty bedding)
- Substance abuse
- Chronic health situations
- Disconnected utilities
- Poor hygiene
Causes of Elder Abuse
How to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022 is soon approaching. So, make sure you take the time to educate yourself and your elderly family members about the signs and prevention methods of elder abuse. There are several ways to observe the day alone or with your community. Here are some of the options:
You can record a short video explaining the devastating consequences of elder abuse and share it on your social media or other public platforms. You can also share these videos with your senior relatives to keep them alert. You may also take photos and send them to your elderly loved ones living in care homes to make them feel supported and loved.
Another great way to observe WEAAD is by exploring websites, blogs, and videos discussing matters that affect senior citizens and their rights. You can also read related books and journals to understand better the signs and prevention techniques of any form of elder mistreatment. Once you know the facts, you can share them with your close circle to spread the knowledge.
Many older adults have powerful and intriguing life experiences and stories to share. Do not hesitate to reach out to them and interview them about their personal experiences on this matter. You can also interview senior care providers and community services and ask about the changing scenarios and perceptions of older people over the years.
You can make donations to different organizations that work for the betterment of senior citizens. It can be a non-profit or government organization, or a local charity. These donations can make a difference if utilized properly towards the elderly community.
5 Things Anyone Can Do to Prevent Elder Abuse
There are several ways to prevent the mistreatment of seniors from the start. We must build support and awareness to protect our elders from violence or abuse. Here are five things anyone can do to prevent elder abuse:
- Understand and identify the signs
The first step to preventing any kind of elder abuse is to understand its nature and signs. Then, if you are aware of the signs, you can easily identify if your senior loved one has been through such trauma and take collective action against it.
- Do not let the elderly feel alone or isolated
Do not isolate your senior relatives. Please make sure you check on them regularly and ask about their day. It will provide a sense of security and strength for the elderly. Make sure they feel comfortable sharing details of their lives with you so that they can open up about any mistreatment or distress.
- Talk to doctors and caregivers about possible abuse
Another thing you can do is pay a visit to the family doctor and inquire about any family history of abuse or signs of past abuse in your elderly relative or loved one’s life. You can also speak with their caregivers and ask about any abnormalities in their behavior or health conditions. Once you have proper knowledge of these matters, you can take preventive actions to ensure better protection for seniors.
- Pay regular visits to care homes and talk to the residents
If your elderly loved one lives in a senior care facility or retirement community, make sure you visit them regularly and pay close attention to their attitude, health condition, and living arrangements. Also, please get to know their fellow residents and collect information related to the facility’s services, staff behavior, and treatment of residents. That way, you can be aware of any warning signs and take necessary actions.
- Support your senior loved ones in reporting any form of abuse
As mentioned earlier, a very low percentage of older adults report abuse to relevant authorities. It can be because of fear, anxiety, lack of support, and many other factors. So, it is crucial that you let your senior loved ones know that they are not alone. Have open conversations with them and make it known that they can share anything with you, and you will be there to support them throughout the process of demanding justice.
Elder Abuse Awareness Activities
Many people still don’t understand the severity and devastating consequences of elder abuse. So, it is vital to keep working towards raising as much public awareness as possible. Here are some easy ways to do so:
- Raise awareness among family and friends by providing information and data
- Share related videos, books, news articles, regulations, and other resources to the elderly
- Become a volunteer for a senior organization or senior center and pay regular visits
- Organize vigils and form community support groups
- Print merchandise (e.g., purple t-shirts, wristbands, hats) and distribute among communities and social platforms
- Send letters to newspapers, local agencies, and TV stations suggesting coverage of WEAAD
How Senior Facilities Can Prevent Elder Abuse
Quality monitoring systems
All long-term care facilities should install strict monitoring systems to assess the quality of care provided to the residents. It will ensure the caregivers and staff take their job more seriously and refrain from performing any unethical acts.
Strong patient care policy
Train and educate senior living staff
Senior facilities need to ensure they hire caregivers and staff after a thorough background check and proper training. With continuous training and education on neglect and abuse issues, these communities can reduce the rate of senior maltreatment by facility staff.
Reassess caregiver situation
Caregivers work under a lot of pressure and stress, which may lead to conscious or subconscious abuse of the residents. So, senior facilities need to regularly assess their caregiver situation and see if they are overworked, facing personal or financial problems, substance abuse, etc.
Keep residents engaged and active
Enable frequent visits from family or social workers
Allowing frequent visits from volunteers, social workers, or family members can reduce the risk of elder abuse in senior facilities. This way, older adults will stay connected to people, share any mishandling or neglect, and take action. It will also send the staff and administration a message that seniors are not alone and have support.
How Can BoomersHub Help Seniors?
Please visit our website or get in touch by calling +(877) 409-0666 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to avail of our free services!
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.