Protecting the vulnerable: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2021– Someone wise once said that we can judge a society by how they treat those most vulnerable, which brings us to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Shining light on this distressing and critical social issue, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is a recognized day occurring every year since the United Nations General Assembly passed its Resolution 66/127, December, 2011. Globally and at home, there is a great deal of improvement needed especially how we treat those who are elderly.
Elder Abuse occurs in both developed and developing countries, and it is not completely known to what extent.
What is known is that the world is trending older while experiencing an unprecedented shift, by their very numbers, away from higher populations of youth.
The number of persons aged 64 surpassed the number of persons under the age of 5 in 2018.
Countries with higher incomes and lower fertility rates have contributed to this demographic phenomenon; and, in the US, those age 5 and under were outnumbered by those age 65 since 1966.
The future of aging is staggering, and it is anticipated that 22 percent of the US population by 2050 will be 65 years or over.
It is projected that between 2010 and 2050, the global older population will increase by 1.3 billion.
It is interesting to note that 55% of global people aged 60 and over are women; and, as longevity increases, it is estimated that 64% of the age 80 plus group are women, with 82% of centenarians being women. The social, economic, and political issues are incomprehensible as our entire world will adjust many aspects of everyday life to accommodate this cohort. Everything from housing, transportation, health care, caregiving, and more will struggle with the fact that far more people will need help and assistance than there are persons available to help them. Especially in the United States, where there is loss of a nuclear family in many cases and we are far more mobile and transitory then generations past, new concepts and ways of living will develop.
Elder abuse is also on the rise–and it is tragic.
According to NCOA, it is estimated that 5 million Americans are abused annually; and, it is estimated that $36.5 billion is lost each year by financial abuse.
The following are commonly known types of Elder Abuse:
-Physical Abuse: Inflicting physical pain or injury.
-Sexual Abuse: Touching, fondling, non-consensual sex and unwanted physical contact; and, unfortunately, may be used to threaten a vulnerable senior.
-Emotional abuse: Verbal abuse, verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, and/or intimidation.
-Confinement: Restraining or isolating an elder for reasons other than medical or safety.
-Passive neglect: A caregiver, whether family or otherwise, would hold basic life necessities such as money, food, shelter, or medical care.
-Willful deprivation: Denying an older adult medication, medical treatment, shelter, assistive devices, and life for the purpose of placing them at risk for mental and/or physical harm.
-Financial exploitation: Misuse or withholding of funds and/or other resources; or, manipulation so that the funds will go to the care recipient or other party.
Being older can mean being more vulnerable due to natural decline, temporary illness, and long-term and sometimes irreversible health conditions, which makes issues of abuse more insidious and and oftentimes deadly.
Thee National Institute on Aging says, elders who have been abused are at a 300% higher risk of death.
In his story, “There’s No Excuse for Elder Abuse,” (Psychology Today), writer Dr. James D. Huysman says:
“Respect your elders…That’s what I was told for as long as I can remember. However, society as a whole in the US today seems to care little for…lessons learned and wisdom earned from those who came before us. Ageism is alive and well.”
It is a bleak thought and also concerning since so much of our society has not adjusted to the very fact of aging, and has little or no desire to think much about it.
The prevalence of the youth culture is strong and impactful
A strong youth demographic creates polarities and divides people based on age, rather than viewing every human being as an individual. Elder abuse, in part, stems from the fact that many do not want to ever get old and wish to pay no attention to it or to those who represent it.
The fact remains that aging is on the pathway of explosion in the US and world-wide and it is a fact of life that will touch the lives of everyone in some way.
The horrors of elder abuse are real, and it is unthinkable that every individual may or may not be able to be accepted and treated with respect and veneration.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of being on the wrong side of elder abuse, the following resources provide assistance for moving ahead and helping someone who is victimized:
1. National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11
2. Eldercare Locator helpline: 1-800-677-1116
3. National Adult Protective Services: 1-202-370-6292
4. Area Agency on Aging in your community
5. National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Center: 1-202-332-2275
6. Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov
7. Estate attorney and/or conservator, trustee, or public guardian known in your community.
A friend once said, “Aging is not for sissies.” I cannot help believing that he was right.
Reaching advanced age is a gift; and, in part, a testimony of mental and physical fortitude.
Aging superstars deserve respect and any assistance which may be required with daily living activities and other care and services. The goal is to help the elderly live the very best possible quality of life.
Truly, aging is a true celebration of life!
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
About the Author:
Laurie Edwards-Tate is Communities Digital News senior health and aging specialist covering healthful eating, living, and aging information. Since 1984, Edwards-Tate has served as President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare, a non-medical Home Care Aide Organization, serving seniors, disabled, infirm, and children. Laurie is on the Board of Director 2018 (elected), Palomar Health; Executive Board Member; Chair Board Human Resources Committee; Member of Audits & Compliance Committee; Community Relations Committee.
(Main image: Thanks to Jeremy Wong @jwwphotography for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁