June 15th, 2020 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It can be hard to imagine anyone deliberately causing harm to an elderly person, however, unfortunately, elder abuse does happen. Elderly deserve our respect as their memories and experiences in life are valuable lessons for our youth. In many cultures across the world in fact, the elderly are revered. Yet in modern America, aging has been reduced to a biological process to be feared rather than a privilege and caring for an aging relative a financial burden, placing stress upon a family. The impact is the rise of “ageism” with people seeing less value in those who are older. These prevailing attitude puts the elderly at risk of being taken advantage of and mistreated.
By definition, elder abuse is any act that causes harm to an older person. The abuse can be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. In these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, elder adults are more socially isolated than ever, and it is important to be mindful as a community of the hidden impact to our elderly community and be aware of their safety.
Elder abuse has not been a national research priority with most studies dated in 2017. Research is limited and only about one in 24 cases of abuse is reported. (World Health Organization, 2018.) Here at TPN, approximately 9% of all survivors we see across Sullivan County, that is more than 100 annually, are older. Despite that number, we know many cases of abuse go unreported because older adults may not know how to get help or may be physically incapable. In the case of harm caused by a family member, for many survivors in this age range, abuse is considered a family matter and should not be shared.
It is more important than ever as we, as a community social distancing, to reach out and connect with the older adults in our life. That may mean helping teach them new technology, so they remain connected to their family and friends or helping them obtain services from local agencies such as Aging Councils, Senior Centers or VNA’s. The personal connection reinforces their importance in our lives and in society and can have a vital impact upon reducing incidents of abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
Join us in honoring the elderly adults in our lives and our community this June 15th by assuring their safety.
For more information or to speak with an advocate, call Turning Points Network 24/7 Crisis & Support Line at 800-639-3130. You may also speak with an advocate online Monday through Friday 9-4PM through live chat on our website at www.turningpointsnetwork.org
OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN) serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope.
For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turninqpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook.