Last week (June 15th) marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – a day designated to raise awareness of elder abuse (which encompasses neglect and mal- or mistreatment) throughout the world. The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse encouraged people around the world to help spread the word by issuing press releases, organizing community events and wearing purple to others that they care about preventing elderly abuse and neglect.
While the official day has passed, raising awareness and preventing elder abuse is an issue that demands much more attention. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), up to 5 million older Americans are abused every year. More than 7.3 million older Americans have been hurt by money crimes according to a study released last week by Investor Protection Trust. Elder abuse is robbing our nation’s older adults of independence and dignity.
Three decades after the first Congressional hearings on elder abuse, the Elder Justice Act (EJA) was signed into law with healthcare reform. The Elder Justice Act will create a coordinated and targeted federal approach to give America’s older adults the security, dignity, and justice they deserve. NCOA has posted a summary worth reading on the Elder Justice Act including key components, the proposal and rationale behind the act.
Elder Justice Now.org is raising awareness by encouraging those who want to help to host a community screening of “An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America”, a short (16 minute) documentary film outlines the struggle we face in preventing abuse.
Elder abuse is a serious issue that is getting more and more attention. However, there is more work to be done to prevent senior citizens in our country from abuse. As citizens, we can take action to raise awareness by visiting vulnerable elders in our communities, reporting cases of abuse to local Adult Protective Services agencies, or hosting a screening of the elder abuse documentary. At the very least, we can mark our calendars for June 11, 2011 for World Elder Abuse Day and make sure we’re all wearing purple.