World Elder Abuse Recognition Day

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” ― Tia Walker

UPDATED: October 20, 2017

The New York Times recently ran this article on How the Elderly Lose Their Rights.  Cases in Nevada were uncovered regarding systemic elder financial abuse that allowed the court to appoint a guardian even though the elder was not cognitively incapacitated and they had family that could care for them. This article points out that, now more than ever, elder rights are worth fighting for–we are all elders-in-waiting and someday, we’ll need someone looking out for us too. Help educate others in what they, too, should look out for and how to spot and combat elder abuse.


Watch the short video below, and share this with others.  Caring about one another is what makes us human!

The taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world.  It remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national and international action plans.

The 2017 World Elder Abuse Recognition Day (WEAAD) theme will explore effective means of strengthening protections against financial and material exploitation and ending victimization around the world. Exploitation takes many forms.

  • In developed countries, the abuse often encompasses theft, forgery, misuse of property and power of attorney, as well as denying access to funds.
  • The overwhelming majority of financial exploitation in less developed countries includes accusations of witchcraft that are used to justify property grabbing, ejection from homes of and denial of family inheritance to widows.

Elder abuse is a ‘silent condition.’  Although there are many statistics stated, no one knows exactly how many of our nation’s elders are being exploited, neglected or abused.  Evidence suggests that much abuse is not reported because often the elder does not report or because the general public is not educated about the signs of elder abuse.

  • About 90 percent of perpetrators of elder abuse are family members, including spouses, adult children, partners and other relatives. The incidence of abuse is higher if the family member suffers from drug or alcohol abuse, have some type of mental illness, or feel burdened by the care of their loved ones.
  • Only about one out of every 14 incidents of elder abuse (including self-neglect) in domestic settings actually come to the attention of local or state authorities.
  • Significant financial exploitation occurs at a rate of about 41 out of every 1,000 individuals surveyed in the US. This was higher than the rates of neglect as well as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
  • Only one out of every 25 cases of financial exploitation are reported. These unreported incidents would increase the amount to 5 million victims of financial exploitation per year in the United States.

It is our responsibility to protect the precious lives of vulnerable elder adults in our communities.  If the elder lives in Senior Housing, those working there are mandated to report to the state authorities, and/or the police.

Abuse comes in many forms:

  • Physical: causing physical pain or injury
  • Emotional: verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, and intimidation
  • Neglect: failure to provide necessities, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care or a safe environment
  • Confinement: restraining or isolating the person
  • Financial: the misuse or withholding of the person’s financial resources (money, property) to his or her disadvantage or the advantage of someone else
  • Sexual abuse: touching, fondling or any sexual activity when the person is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened or physically forced
  • Willful deprivation: willfully denying the person medication, medical care, food, shelter or physical assistance, and thereby exposing the individual with Alzheimer’s to the risk of physical, mental or emotional harm
  • Self-neglect: Due to lack of insight and cognitive changes, a person with cognitive challenges may be unable to safely and adequately provide for day-to-day needs, and may be at risk for harm, falls, wandering and/or malnutrition.

Let us take care of the children,
for they have a long way to go.

Let us take care of the elders,
for they have come a long way.

Let us take care of the in-between,
for they are doing the work.

—African Prayer

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

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