28 Apr Protect the Seniors, Recognize the Signs
Did you know that approximately 1 in 10 seniors are abused each year?
While this is an alarming statistic, the truth is that Elder Abuse is dramatically underreported, with only 1 in 23 cases being reported to Adult Protective Services (APS).
So how do we begin to close the gap?
One way to reduce incidents of abuse is through prevention education and awareness. June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month, and during this time, organizations and government agencies promote events to educate older adults, caregivers, loved ones, and members of the community on how to identify the warning signs of Elder Abuse. The focus is centered around recognizing types of abuse, as well as resources available to those who may be experiencing or witnessing abuse.
How Can We Prevent Elder Abuse?
The first step is to Watch for Signs. Often, we may be overlooking signs of Elder Abuse because we are uninformed about what those warning signs look like. Elder Abuse can take a variety of forms, but here are some warning signs to be mindful of:
- Physical – unexplained bruises, repeated injuries, broken bones
- Psychological – crying, agitation, shame, depression, fear
- Financial – large bank withdrawals, unpaid bills, missing items
- Sexual – STDs, bruising to breasts, painful urination
- Neglect – dehydration, poor hygiene, poor living conditions
- Abandonment – seeing a vulnerable older adult left alone in distress
The second step is to Listen to Older Adults. Oftentimes Older Adults are left out of the conversation of abuse because of Ageism, societal attitudes, stereotyping of Older Adults, and lack of awareness regarding Elder Abuse. It is crucial to listen to what Older Adults may disclose, in addition to staying aware of the warning signs.
The third step is to Get Involved. If you learn a senior is experiencing elder abuse, make sure they know that you believe them and that you’re available to help. Listen to what they need and help connect them to resources for support.
The Role of WTLC in the Prevention of Elder Abuse
WTLC will be collaborating with various Older Adult programs and organizations throughout Orange County for Elder Abuse Awareness Month. On June 15th, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will take place and the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Program will be attending the Webinar, “Loneliness Pandemic: The Unforeseen Impact Of COVID-19” where we will be a part of the conversation and discuss the side effects of COVID-19 throughout the Older Adult population. Please reach out to Silvia or Isabella if you are interested in attending the Webinar. Lastly, please consider wearing purple clothing on Thursday, June 15 for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to help increase awareness surrounding the prevalence of Elder Abuse.
What Are Some Available Resources?
The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult program are available and ready to provide resources to survivors. This may include case management, referrals within and outside of WTLC, as well as collaborations with other organizations and programs to fit the needs of each survivor.
WTLC’s vision is to end the cycle of violence and exploitation, this conversation cannot take place without the inclusion of Older Adults. Through understanding the warning signs of Elder Abuse and taking the steps towards prevention education we can all help end the cycle of Elder Abuse.