Despite the health status of an individual and advances in medical technology, as people age over time both their physical and mental health may decline. As a result, older people are more likely to be exploited and may be neglected or abused at the hands of their caretakers and caregivers.
In fact, it is estimated that every year nearly five million elders suffer some form of abuse. Elder financial abuse and exploitation alone is estimated to cost over $2 billion each year. Sadly, financial exploitation takes away the limited financial resources that that an older person may have for their basic needs, such as for food, shelter and medical needs.
In an effort to raise awareness about the issue of elder abuse, about a decade ago the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, declared June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In fact, this year President Obama made a proclamation to join in and mark June 15 as a day to raise awareness about elder abuse in the U.S., and he specifically noted that elder abuse takes many forms ranging from physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and even sexual abuse. Additionally, elders may be abandoned and neglected by their own caregiver who could be a family member, such a spouse or child.
Elder abuse happens in many communities and can affect anyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. Being aware that it happens, recognizing the signs of elder abuse and being informed matters. It may save an elder from further abuse. Finally, holding those who inflict the abuse upon elders responsible may provide some sense of justice.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day,” accessed June 15, 2015