Letter to the Editor: Observing World Elder Abuse Awareness Week

To the Editor:

June 15 - 19 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Week. Throughout that week, communities in the USA and all over the world will sponsor events to highlight the growing tragic issue of elder abuse.

The United States Administration on Aging estimates that as many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year. Older adults are contributing members of American society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. America has confronted and addressed the issues of child abuse and domestic violence, but, as a society we have for too long ignored the issue of elder abuse.

Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, financial and sexual. It also includes people who are neglected and those who neglect themselves (self-neglect). Elders who are abused are twice as likely to be hospitalized, four times as likely to go into nursing homes and three times as likely to die. While most abusers are family members and trusted professionals, complete strangers may also target older adults. Abuse can happen in any setting: in the older adult’s own home, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities.

Elder abuse can be prevented if everyone would treat older Americans with respect and care. Learning the warning signs of abuse and knowing how to report it is another great step. Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging, Adult Protective Services, the police, and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program are organizations that you can call on for assistance and information.  You can also obtain more information on how to stop elder abuse by visiting the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website https://ncea.acl.gov or by calling the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
Anne Marie Kofta
Elder Abuse Prevention and Awareness, Team Lead
Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A)

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