June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) and the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities and the Department of Justice are partnering in an effort to unite communities around Delaware to raise awareness about elder abuse. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for our communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults, and reaffirms the State’s commitment to the principle of justice for all. When we come together, we can prevent elder abuse from happening.
Elder abuse is widespread. Every year an estimated one in ten 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 of our communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it. Research suggests that as few as one in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities. In Delaware, Adult Protective Services (APS) investigated 1500 allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation in 2018.
Elder abuse is an issue with many consequences for our society. It affects our communities in ways ranging from public health to economics.
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 our communities as we age.
- We 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.
- We 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.
- We can figure out new and better ways to arrange and coordinate the teams, agencies and programs that work specifically with older people.
- We 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.
Whenever we strengthen our community’s social support structure, we’re helping to reduce social isolation and protect our communities and families against elder abuse. Whenever you report signs of abuse, neglect or exploitation, you’re helping to protect a friend, neighbor or loved one. If you do see signs of abuse, neglect or exploitation, please call Delaware’s APS at 1-800-223-9074 to report. Together, we can end elder abuse. #WEAAD #DSAAPD #