June 3rd, 2011 at 3:31 pm
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June is elder abuse awareness month

by Carol Bursack

Elder abuse, as with the abuse of any vulnerable person, is repulsive. We shouldn’t need a month set aside to draw attention to the issue, but we do. Yes, cases that reach the newspapers are important, but many, many cases of abuse do not reach the news. Elder abuse often goes unreported because the abused person can’t fight back, or may not even recognize that he or she is being abused.

People with Alzheimer’s or other dementia/mental illnesses often suffer from paranoia, which can be a serious complication in situations of elder abuse. Many of these individuals are so confused they will think they are being abused, particularly when their property or money is involved. However, in reality, they are being lovingly care for by family or paid caregivers.

Elder abuse is very real

Yet, elder abuse is very real and raising awareness is one avenue to curbing its prevalence. Elder abuse can take many forms, such as verbal, emotional and financial abuse. Looking for marks on an elder’s body makes sense if you suspect physical abuse, but the other types of abuse are just as harmful and those abuses don’t leave visual marks. In “Elder Abuse Can be Subtle,” I addressed some of these issues.

If you suspect verbal or emotional abuse, a tape recorder can come in handy. Financial abuse generally comes to light when an elder has the financial assets for good care, but you see that he or she wears shabby clothing, or you notice medicines and even food are withheld to save money. Often, the reason for this money saving behavior is to maintain family assets for inheritance purposes.

Sometimes, elder abuse happens when caregivers are overstressed. In some cases, adult children who were abused as children–but aim to do their best for their aging parents–may be at risk to become abusers when overstressed. Even people who’ve had a loving relationship with their parents can be pushed over the edge and fall into patterns of elder abuse.

Wear purple to draw awareness to the elder abuse issue

Purple is the designated color for elder abuse awareness, and June 15th is the designated day to observe the problem, but the entire month of June is dedicated to awareness. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)–directed by the US Administration on Aging–offers state and local resources to combat elder abuse, so be sure to check it out.

Join the NCEA and other agencies in fighting this extensive problem. Watch for elder abuse in your community and even in your family. Elder abuse is real. It needs to stop.

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One Response to “June is elder abuse awareness month”

  1. assisted living portland

    Unfortunately some assisted living facility hire without verifying all the credentials such as background check. Many times pure ignorance and negligence is the cause. Thanks do much for nice blog post.

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