While World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15, the United States spends the month of June nationally advocating for the awareness of the unreported and growing issues. National Elder Abuse Awareness Month was created in 2006 at the United Nations by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization.
About 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. These actions can include physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, and financial exploitation.
As the Massachusetts North Shore elder services, SeniorCare, explains that Elder abuse is defined by law as “an act or omission, which results in a serious physical or emotional injury to an elderly person or financial exploitation of an elderly person; or the failure, inability or resistance of an elderly person to provide for himself or herself one or more of the necessities essential for physical and emotional well-being without which the elderly person would be unable to safely remain in the community.”
Neglect of seniors does not have to be done with force; it can be not feeding, keeping clean, warm, safe, or not providing them with proper medical care.
Elder abuse can also be self-neglect, a serious, ongoing issue in Massachusetts. Those who cannot care for themselves any longer, or refuse assistance, are more susceptible to illnesses and these cases often go unreported. There are many causes of self-neglect, from dementia, depression, disease, poverty, to isolation.
Financial exploitation, illegally or improperly using an elder person’s assets for their own personal use. Many cases are at the hands of a family member, or a scam artist over the phone, computer, or own front door. Senior citizens are scammed out of $36 billion each year, with only 1 in 24 cases being reported. Additionally, a power of attorney can be a financial predator, transferring or swindling them out of their money.
As reported by the National Center on Elder Abuse, local, state, regional and national communities are taking on initiatives big and small in order to honor and protect elders. These activities also draw attention to abuse issues and spread awareness to help prevent such abuse.
SeniorCare further explains that “Children and animals, whose abuse issues, unlike elder abuse, capture major media attention, are not expected to care for themselves. But an aging adult has different self and societal pressures for self-care. They have spent their adult life not only caring for themselves, but in most cases, being responsible for the care of others. Adults moving into a phase of life where they need assistance to be independent can experience a challenge to their self-identity and self-worth. Asking for help can be emotionally and psychologically difficult.”
As seniors age, many who experience a decline in ability to complete day-to-day tasks may find themselves fearful of losing their independence and possibly being placed in a nursing home or long-term care facility. SeniorCare lets us in on a secret: by accepting help, a person can become more capable of living at home.
At Heart to Home Meals, we believe that age only makes you stronger and it does not mean that life has to slow down. Rather, we provide a service that keeps a senior’s lifestyle, nutrition, and tastes in mind. With minimal meal prep and personal food delivery right to your door, seniors will have more time being able to do the things they love with the people they love.
If you suspect elder self-neglect or other abuse, you can call the Massachusetts-based Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275