World Elder Abuse Month - Gulf Credit Union | Texas Credit Union (2024)

June is recognized globally as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month, a time dedicated to bringing attention to the often-overlooked issue of elder abuse. This month-long observance aims to educate communities, promote understanding, and inspire action to protect the rights and dignity of older adults. Elder abuse encompasses various harmful behaviors, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect. It can occur in multiple settings, from private homes to institutional care facilities. Perpetrators often include family members, caregivers, and others in positions of trust. World Elder Abuse Awareness Month is an opportunity for all of us to stand against the abuse and neglect of older adults. By spreading awareness, supporting advocacy, and promoting a culture of respect and inclusion, we can help ensure that our elders live in safety and dignity. This June, let’s commit to being vigilant and proactive in protecting the rights of older adults in our communities.

What is Elder Abuse?

Did you know that elder abuse affects millions every year? It causes older people to suffer from serious injuries, illnesses, or even death. Fortunately, you can help stop elder abuse by noting any warning signs and reporting them to the proper authorities.

Elder abuse is an act or lack of action that harms an older person. Elder abuse is an all-too-common problem in our society today. Elders become vulnerable to abuse when they need to rely on caregivers such as family, friends, or nursing home staff. Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical injuries, financial exploitation, scams, and verbal threats.

Common types of elder abuse include:

  • Neglect: Ignoring an older person’s personal needs
  • Physical abuse: Punching, kicking, shoving
  • Sexual abuse: Engaging in non-consensual sexual activities
  • Emotional / psychological abuse: Yelling, name-calling, or threats
  • Financial exploitation: Stealing money or other things of value

How to Report Elder Abuse?

Reporting elder Abuse is crucial to protect vulnerable individuals. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Contact Adult Protective Services (APS): In many countries, APS agencies are dedicated to investigating and intervening in cases of elder abuse. You can find their contact information online or through local government offices.
  2. Call Law Enforcement: If the elder is in immediate danger or needs urgent medical attention, call emergency services or your local police department.
  3. Speak to a Healthcare Provider: If you suspect abuse but are unsure how to proceed, consulting with a healthcare professional can provide guidance and support.
  4. Report to Long-Term Care Ombudsman: If the abuse is occurring in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contacting the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program can be helpful. They advocate for residents’ rights and investigate complaints.
  5. Contact Social Services or Community Organizations: Local social services agencies or community organizations may also offer support and resources for reporting elder abuse.
  6. Document and Report Any Evidence: If you have witnessed or have evidence of abuse, document it as thoroughly as possible before reporting it. This can include photographs, medical records or written accounts.
  7. Seek Legal Advice: If you’re unsure about the legal aspects or need assistance navigating the reporting process, consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in elder law.

Remember, reporting elder abuse is an important step in ensuring the safety and well-being of older adults.

How to Protect Yourself Against Elder Abuse?

Protecting yourself or loved ones from elder abuse involves several strategies:

  1. Stay Informed: Educate yourself and your loved ones about the signs and types of elder abuse, including physical, emotional, financial and neglect.
  2. Stay Connected: Maintain regular contact with elderly family members and friends. Isolation can make individuals more vulnerable to abuse.
  3. Be vigilant: Look out for signs of abuse, such as unexplained injuries sudden changes in behavior, or financial discrepancies.
  4. Set Boundaries: Clearly communicate boundaries with caregivers, financial advisors, or anyone else involved in the elder’s care.
  5. Verify Caregivers: Thoroughly research and vet caregivers or service providers before hiring them. Obtain references and conduct background checks when possible.

Encourage Independence: Empower elderly individuals to make their own decisions and maintain control over their finances and personal affairs whenever possible


Elder Abuse in Financial Institutions

Elder Abuse can involve financial exploitation, which can occur through credit unions or banks. This might include unauthorized withdrawals, coercive lending, or deceptive financial practices, targeting older adults who may be vulnerable due to factors like cognitive decline or isolation.

Financial institutions play a crucial role in detecting and preventing elder abuse. They need to be aware of warning signs such as sudden changes in financial habits, unusual withdrawals, and individuals being reluctant to discuss financial matters. Training staff to recognize these signs, having protocols for reporting suspicions, and maintaining confidentiality are essential steps in safeguarding vulnerable customers. Additionally, offering resources and support to victims can help mitigate the impact of elder financial abuse.

Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA),as many as 5 million older Americans experience abuse every year, many of them residing in nursing facilities.

Nursing home abuse is the mistreatment of older adults in assisted living facilities. A study in 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO) noted 66% of nursing home staff members admitted to abusing residents. Residents and family members can reduce the risks of nursing home abuse by knowing the signs and quickly reporting them.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

  • 1 in 3 older adults have been the victim of nursing home abuse.
  • 2 in 3 staff members surveyed by the WHO admitted to abusing or neglecting residents.
  • 85% of assisted living facilities reported at least one case of abuse or neglect.
  • 97% of nursing home abuse cases across 5 states were not reported to local law enforcement.

To keep your loved one safe, educate yourself about abuse and neglect in nursing homes and report any incidents to local police or your state’s Adult Protective Services (ADP) division.

Physical Signs of Elder Abuse

Nearly 120,000 reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of Texas elders were sent to the State in the 2022 fiscal year. The DFPS’ Adult Protective Service (APS) staff investigated nearly 85,000 of those claims and validated more than 50,000 of them.

Social isolation and dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are two factors that makes an older adult vulnerable to abuse. Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect.

Warning signs of physical abuse:

  • Dehydration or unusual weight loss
  • Missing daily living aids, like glasses or dentures
  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, cuts, or sores
  • Unsanitary living conditions and poor hygiene
  • Unattended medical needs

Together WE Can Foster a Future Free of Elder Abuse

Local, state, tribal, and federal entities, both public and private, play a critical role in responding to elder abuse. In most states, professionals such as physicians and social workers are mandatory reporters. Law enforcement officers are able to investigate criminal allegations of abuse while state and local prosecutors decide which cases to pursue.

To the extent a prosecution arises,victim services may be available to assist the elder adult through the criminal justice process.With so many entities playing a role, there is growing recognition of the need for multidisciplinary collaboration. Depending on the nature of the abuse, additional expertise and assistance may be sought from health care providers, social service agencies, financial institutions, civil attorneys, and others.

World Elder Abuse Month - Gulf Credit Union | Texas Credit Union (2024)
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