In conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 to bring awareness to the often-unreported problem of elder abuse, the Area Agency on Aging, in partnership with the Maricopa Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance, is launching the #WeToo campaign to help break the silence.
Every year, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected or exploited, a number that is believed to be very low because it is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to authorities.
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that
• about 1 in 10 Americans age 60 and over have experienced abuse.
• the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial exploitation was estimated at $2.9 billion.
• abusers are both men and women; in nearly 60 percent of elder abuse and neglect cases, the perpetrator is a family member.
• elders who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death than those who have not been mistreated.
Warning signs include:
• Physical abuse, neglect, mistreatment: bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions or burns.
• Emotional abuse: unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness or unusual depression; strained or tense relationships; frequent arguments between the caregiver and older adult.
• Financial abuse: sudden changes in financial situations; missing checks; failure to make payments; missing credit and debit cards; insufficient funds.
• Neglect: bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss.
• Verbal or emotional abuse: belittling, threats or other uses of power; fear of caregiver.
• Sexual abuse: pelvic injury, problems walking or sitting, developing a sexually transmitted disease, torn, bloody or stained underwear, bruises of the genitals or inner thigh, panic attacks, signs of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or agitation, social or emotional withdrawal from others, suicide attempts.
What do to if you see the signs:
• Document changes in behavior
• Write descriptions and photograph injuries
• Get a written statement from the victim and any witnesses
• Document potential financial exploitation or neglect
• Call the Area Agency on Aging’s 24-hour Senior Help Line at 602-264-4357.
For more information, visit www.aaaphx.org.
Here is my Valley Views interview with Lizzie Kazan from the Area Agency on Aging