Macon County Senior Services commemorated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by hosting a World Elder Abuse Awareness Walk. On Wednesday, June 15, approximately 55 Maconians walked around downtown Franklin in an effort to raise awareness of elder abuse.
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006, in an effort to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder
abuse. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for our communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to the principle of justice for all.
“When we come together, we can prevent elder abuse from happening. We can put support services in place, and direct community resources toward addressing elder abuse. Our country must reaffirm our commitment to justice and create a sturdy structure of support that will benefit us all as we get older,” stated a release from
director Jennifer Hollifield.
Elder abuse is widespread. Every year an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported, in part because so many communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it. Research suggests that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.
In addition to being a clear violation of the American commitment to justice for all, elder abuse is an issue with many consequences for our society. Its effects on our communities range from public health to economic issues.
The good news is that we can prevent and address the issue of elder abuse. There are many ways to strengthen our social supports through policies, services, and programs that keep us integrated in the community as we age.
• Communities can design and equip community centers to work as intergenerational spaces that allow older people to build relationships and participate in the work, play, and life of our neighborhoods.
• Communities can think about the role of transportation in reducing social isolation and adjust systems so that we can all continue to move throughout our communities as we age.
• Communities can figure out new and better ways to arrange and coordinate the teams, agencies and programs that work specifically with older people.
• Communities can develop programs to educate families and professionals who work with older adults to understand the importance of preventing isolation, how to spot the warning signs of abuse, and what to do to address abuse or neglect.
By doing all that can be done to strengthen the social support structure, social isolation can be reduced, and communities and families can be protected against elder abuse, building a nation that lives up to the promise of justice for all.
For more information about this topic, contact, Macon County Senior Services at (828)349-2058.