It is not something most of us want to think about. But according to the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), each year an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as five cases go unreported.
Elder abuse takes many forms, including financial exploitation, physical abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse. The Year of Elder Abuse Prevention is an opportunity for Americans to take action to protect seniors by raising awareness about this serious issue. The AoA suggests ten things anyone can do to help prevent elder abuse:
- Learn the signs of elder abuse and neglect.
- Call or visit elderly relatives, friends, and neighbors and ask how they are doing.
- Provide a respite for a caregiver by filling in for a few hours or more.
- Ask an older acquaintance to share his or her talents by teaching you or your children a new skill.
- Ask your faith leaders to discuss with their congregations elder abuse prevention and the importance of respecting older adults.
- Ask your bank manager to train tellers on how to detect financial exploitation of elders.
- Suggest that your doctor talk to his or her older patients individually about possible abuse.
- Contact your local adult protective services or long-term care ombudsman to learn how to support their work helping at-risk elders.
- Volunteer to be a friendly visitor to a nursing home resident or homebound elder in your community.
Visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website (www.ncea.org) for more resources and information about preventing and raising the awareness of elder abuse.