Help spread the word for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. It can be hard to imagine that anyone would deliberately want to harm an elderly person, but unfortunately, elder abuse is a widespread problem. Some instances of elder abuse are intended to exploit the person financially; you’ve probably heard of scams targeting seniors. In other cases, it’s simple negligence: Caregivers don’t provide the basic necessities, like nutritious food, appropriate medication, safety, or assistance with hygiene. If you see something, say something.
History of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, or WEAAD, is an annual initiative launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization. In its 66/127 resolution, the United Nations General Assembly designated that date as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day in which the entire world voices its opposition to any form of abuse of the older generation.
WEAAD aims to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of the abuse older people suffer by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting them. Elder abuse is one of the least investigated types of violence and does not get addressed in national action plans as frequently as other key social issues.
The UN International Plan of Action described elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. Globally we have an aging population, with the number of older people in the world expected to be 1.4 billion by 2030. Research suggests that 4 to 6 percent of the elderly suffer from some kind of abuse, most of which go unreported. This day is to make sure we remain focused on our elders, ensuring they lead a life of high quality and dignity.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day timeline
A body for justice
A group of UCI professors created the nation’s first-ever Elder Abuse Forensic Center
An organization is born
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) is established by the U.S. Administration on Aging.
A tell-all book
The first book on elder abuse, “Abuse and Maltreatment of the Elderly: Causes and Interventions”, is published.
SAGE is formed
The Advocacy and Services for LGBT elders is created.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day FAQs
How does a person make an elder abuse report?
If an older adult is in immediate danger, call 911. Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated should contact the police or a local anti-abuse organization. The NCEA describes various scenarios and ways to help.
When is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?
Where can I learn more about WEAAD?
There are several portals online dedicated to the prevention of elder abuse that describe this day and events in full, such as the National Center on Law & Elder Rights, Savvy Saving Seniors®: Steps to Avoiding Scams, Ageless Alliance, and much more.
How to Observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Know the symptoms of abuse
Bedsores, bruises, or chafing could indicate that your loved one is being restrained to a bed or wheelchair, or otherwise physically abused. If he or she has recently lost weight, malnutrition or dehydration could be at play, while poor hygiene is also an indicator of possible abuse. Watch, too, for changes in the person’s mood; if they seem depressed, anxious, agitated, or listless, see if you can discover why. In short, any changes to an elder’s behavior, disposition or physical condition could be cause for concern.
If you suspect something, say something
If you do detect signs of abuse, document them. Take pictures of bruises or injuries, get a statement from the victim or any witnesses, and keep a log of any suspicious behavior or circumstances. You can then address your concerns with the manager or director of the long-term care facility or home care provider; if they do not take action, contact the police or an elder abuse attorney.
Spread the word with social media
It might seem counterintuitive to help prevent the abuse of elders using tools that are largely considered the domain of younger generations, but there’s really no better way to get the word out and foster awareness than through social platforms. Share informational articles on Facebook and use the hashtag #WEAAD on Twitter.
5 Facts About Elder Abuse
It happens mostly at home
Elder abuse instances happen mostly in the home where the senior lives.
1 in every 10
Is the number of elder adults that experience some form of abuse in their lifetime.
Finances are at the highest risk
The most common form of abuse is financial exploitation and extortion.
9 out of 10 elder abusers are relatives
In around 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member.
Many go unreported
Only one of every six instances of elder abuse is reported.
Why World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is Important
Older Americans may be unable to advocate for themselves
Many seniors are not in a place to stand up for themselves, whether it's because they're physically frail or because they're scared of speaking up and fear repercussions. It’s crucial for all of us to be on the lookout for signs of elder abuse, and to speak up if something seems wrong.
Seniors deserve our respect and our attention
In so many cultures, elders are revered —and rightfully so. Their experiences, memories, and perspective on life are valued for the lessons that younger folks can learn. And if older people aren’t encouraged to pass along the skills and wisdom they have accumulated during their lives, then the culture as a whole suffers. We owe it to older generations to ensure that their so-called Golden Years are not tarnished by neglect.
It reminds us to look out for each other
It's easy to see bad things and not say anything—whether that's senior abuse or a mugging on the street. But this holiday reminds us just how important it is to look after, and look out for, our fellow humans. It reminds us to exercise compassion on a daily basis, and care about others rather than just ourselves.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day dates