What is Elder Abuse

During the pandemic, many of us have been feeling lonely or isolated. We miss seeing our family and friends in person. For some older adults though, the feelings of loneliness and isolation started long before the pandemic. 

 

grey photo of an older man wearing glasses

 

For some seniors, the pandemic restrictions have only exacerbated the social isolation they were already experiencing.  Social isolation is not only a concern for physical and mental health; it is also a risk for elder abuse.  Older adults who are socially isolated are at higher risk of elder abuse. 

 

What is Elder Abuse?

 

It is the mistreatment of an older adult by someone they should be able to depend upon and trust. 

 

Elder abuse can take many forms such as: financial, psychological, physical, sexual, or neglect.  It often occurs when there is an imbalance of power and an older adult’s rights are disregarded.  Intimidation, humiliation, or coercion can make an older adult feel powerless.

 

By definition, elder abuse is perpetrated by someone in a position of trust, oftentimes, a family member, close friend, or caregiver.  The sense of betrayal and hurt runs deep, and the situation becomes even more complex when the older adult depends on that person for all of their care or daily needs.

 

Elder Rights are Human Rights

 

Older adults deserve to:

  • be treated with respect and dignity
  • experience human rights and protections regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, or socio-economic status.
  • make their own decisions and retain autonomy
  • have access to health care, social and legal service

As a community, we can band together and expect dignified treatment of all older adults. By promoting the human rights that older adults are entitled to, we can set the expectation that elder abuse is never acceptable.

 

quote “The term ‘innocent bystanders’ is an untruth. Those who do nothing when things are amiss, give permission for injustice to continue.” said by June Callwood

 

Elder Abuse Prevention

 

Elder abuse is everyone’s business. Elder abuse can happen to anyone; it is up to the community as a whole to help prevent abuse from occurring.  By fostering an inclusive and welcoming community, all older adults will feel safe and supported.

 

What Can YOU Do to Help?

  • Stay connected with older adults in your life!  Continue to check in even if visits are virtual.
  • Educate yourself on signs and risk factors associated with elder abuse.
  • Inform older adults of their rights; create a supportive environment where it is possible for seniors to make their own, informed decisions.
  • Feel free to ask “are you okay?” and truly wait for honest answers.  Initiate tough conversations.
  • If there are warning signs and you suspect abuse, report it.

Preventing elder abuse is a community responsibility.  You can be the person that makes a difference for the older adults in your life. Stay connected and promote the human rights to which all older adults are entitled!

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