Raising Awareness About Elder Abuse
By: Jenna S., Alexandra House Aging Services Advocate
June is the month dedicated to raising awareness for abuse of the elderly. When you picture someone who may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse, what do you picture? Would it be difficult to imagine someone who is in their 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s experiencing abuse? Can you imagine your mother, your father, your grandmother, your grandfather?
In recent history it has come to light that the older population are experiencing abuse at an astounding rate. Approximately 1 in 10 older adults will experience at least one form of abuse. Only 1 in 23 cases of those cases will be reported. Considering that the majority of cases go unreported, it difficult to know how deep this issues actually runs. Older populations are subject to neglect, physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, and spiritual abuse. Many times if one form of abuse is present, another is sure to follow. This is known as poly-victimization, which is very common with elder abuse. Why is elder abuse so under reported?
More times than not an older adult’s abuser will be someone that they are close with and trust. It could be their spouse, their son or daughter, their grandson or granddaughter, caregiver, or neighbor. It can often times be a huge barrier to speak out about abuse when it is being perpetrated someone so close to them. Abusers are typically manipulative and may appear very different in public. Victims may feel that they may not be believed and often times feel embarrassed. Many times older populations become isolated and less mobile. It can become even more difficult to report if you consider an older adult with a cognitive impairment such as dementia. About 50% of older adults with dementia will suffer from some form of abuse or neglect.
Elder abuse is more common and more hidden than ever. With the baby boomer population growing older, we are expected to see an even more rapid increase of elder abuse. By 2030 1 in 5 adults will be 65 and older. June 5th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – it is a reminder for all of us to be looking for signs of an older adult in your life who may be experiencing abuse. Do they have unexplained bruises? Do they seem scared or depressed? Do they seem more isolated? Do they have unpaid bills or money missing? Simply by being more aware of signs of abuse, you can help older adults take the first steps in getting help. For more information about our services offered to older adults, please visit our website at alexandrahouse.org or call our crisis line at 763-780-2330.