June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
It’s sad that our world needs a day to raise awareness about elder abuse. I think of all the traditions where honoring one’s elders is a sacred foundation on which family, community and society are built, and I wonder how we’ve gravitated away from this core value. The number of elderly in our country is experiencing unprecedented growth, and that presents challenges. Studies show that ~10% of elders are abused. Abuse may include physical abuse, social isolation, psychological abuse, financial control, sexual abuse and neglect.
Elders are frequently very reticent to tell anyone about the abuse. Sometimes because it’s a spouse, son or daughter who is abusing them and they fear involving the police because of the impact on someone they love. Sometimes they are afraid of losing their independence. And often it’s because they were raised in a time when private matters were kept private.
Often the elder is abused by a trusted family member. friend or caregiver. Unlike decades ago when families remained close to home, increasingly people are scattered across the country or the globe. Often, when abuse is discovered, family members are shocked that someone they trusted would abuse their loved one. So it’s up to all of us to be aware of the signs of elder abuse and watch out for vulnerable seniors.