June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Elder abuse is one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society.  Did you know 1 out of every 10 elder adults experience some kind of abuse in their lifetime? 9 out of every 10 elder abusers are close relatives. For many, these acts go unreported. Elder abuse is a problem that robs seniors of their security, dignity, and even assets. Elder abuse can be defined as any act that caues harm occurring in a relationship where there is a level of trust, such as with a family member or friend.

Signs of abuse can be physical abnormalities, bad hygiene, and even changes in mood. Exploitation, neglect, and abuse have no boundaries and cross all economic, racial, social, geographic, and ethnic lines. Social isolation and mental impairment (such as Alzheimer’s and dementia) are two large factors contributing to elder abuse. Recent studies have shown that almost half of those living with dementia have experienced some forms of abuse and neglect.

Educating caregivers, professionals, and the public on abuse is critical for prevention. Protecting elder people’s rights allows society to fully come to terms with the potential of their aging populations. There are many ways to advocate to help in prevention of elder abuse. Speaking up for those who may not have a voice to, calling or visiting elderly loved ones and asking how they are doing, and even asking your local church to give a talk about elder abuse and what to look for, are all ways to actively engage in educating your community.

There are also many ways to advocate for yourself against elder abuse. Having your income directly deposited into your checking account, getting a will, power of attorney, and a trust created, and only allowing someone you really trust to manage your finances are all ways to prevent abuse. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Know your signs, and take a stand against abuse of the elderly.

If you or someone you know is the victim of elder abuse:

Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline: (833)-586-0107
Adult Protective Services Hotline: (608) 261-9933

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.