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Be aware of elder abuse

In April, 2002, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) proclaimed June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day following the United Nations’ International Plan of Action on Ageing.

This plan recognized the importance of addressing and preventing abuse and neglect of older adults.

It also identified that mistreatment of older adults was a violation of internationally-recognized human rights.

This day is intended to bring public awareness to the issue of elder abuse—a hidden problem affecting today’s older adults.

Elder abuse can be defined as any action or non-action that harms an older person or jeopardizes the person’s health or welfare.

It can take many forms, including physical, psychological, spiritual, or financial abuse, as well as situations of neglect.

Elder abuse occurs in the privacy of one’s home, in a facility setting, or in the community.

Research indicates that about 80 percent of elder abuse goes unreported.

Research from Canada shows that between four and 10 percent of older adults will experience some type of abuse during their later years by someone the trust or rely on.

Signs of elder abuse can include unexplained physical injuries, depression, anxiety or fear, social isolation, changes in hygiene and nutrition, lack of food, clothing, or basic necessities, unmet financial obligations, and/or unusual banking withdrawals.

If you or someone you know has been abused or is experiencing abuse, help is available. Call 9-1-1, the police, or a community service agency for immediate assistance.

Support is available by talking to a trusted friend, family member, clergy, mental health professional, medical professional, legal professional, or shelter.

You also can get information on elder abuse by calling the Seniors Safety Line toll-free at 1-866-299-1011.

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