SIDNEY — World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is an international day of observance that is held every year on June 15. The theme for WEAAD 2020 is “Building Strong Supports for Elders.”
Elder abuse, according the United Nations, can be defined as a single or repeated act, or lack of action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. By talking about elder abuse and raising awareness, citizens can build a stronger support system for the elderly in their community.
Elder abuse can take many forms: neglect, self-neglect, isolation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, or emotional abuse. Based on a 2015 national study, it is estimated that around 10% of the elderly population has experienced abuse at some point; and due to elder abuse being unidentified and under-reported, this number may be higher. Individuals who are in poor health, have dementia, or who are isolated are more likely to experience elder abuse.
In Shelby County, a majority of the cases that Adult Protective Services (APS) investigates are self-neglect. The APS caseworker often assists individuals experiencing self-neglect by connecting them with community resources such as Meals on Wheels and Passport. Other cases many times involve allegations of serious physical and emotional abuse and financial exploitation. In total, Shelby County APS investigated 125 cases in calendar year 2019.
What can you do to help raise awareness about Elder Abuse in a community? This year the Shelby County Adult Protective Services is asking residents to wear purple on WEAAD, June 15. Citizens can alsokalso an eye out on the older adults that they are close with in their community- whether that be friends, family, or just a neighbor. If you suspect abuse is occurring, talk with the elder and listen to what they have to say. If you still have concerns, call 937-498-4981 to make a report to APS.