This year, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) will receive 23,000 reports of elder abuse and neglect – an increase of more than 1,500 over last year.
Eight years ago in recognition of the scope and universality of the issue, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization launched the annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15th.
As Kathy Greenlee, the Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administration at the Administration for Community Living, recently noted “…(A)s the world population of older people grows, so does the problem of elder abuse. This is a global health problem and it is a community health issue.”
Increasing awareness among people on elder abuse has led to reporting more suspected cases, and accounts for some of the increase in statistics. And the Administration has been collaborating to continue to raise awareness on this important issue in communities across the Commonwealth. Here are just two examples:
- The Bank Reporting Project: Working with the Attorney General’s office and the Massachusetts Bankers Association, EOEA provides training for local bank staff to help them recognize signs of elder financial exploitation, and assistance if seniors are unable to manage their own finances or are being victimized by a family-member, friend or caregiver.
- Local Protective Services Training: With more people living into their 80s, and experiencing self-neglect or possible abuse at the hands of their caregivers, we all have an obligation to recognize the “red flags,” and reach out to help. That’s why EOEA’s Protective Services staff have developed a series of workshops for local Councils on Aging that help staff recognize signs of domestic violence, sexual and financial abuse, and what to do if they think a senior is being victimized. Training includes strategies for overcoming shame and fear that people who are being victimized or who are suffering from cognitive impairment may feel in acknowledging problems. Regional Protective Services staff also work with local sheriffs, police and other agencies to increase awareness of consumer exploitation, fraud, self-neglect and other signs of victimization.
For more information about reporting abuse, please check out EOEA’s Protective Services website at: http://www.mass.gov/elders/service-orgs-advocates/protective-services-program.html
For more information about recognizing signs of abuse, click on to: http://ncea.aoa.gov/Resources/Publication/docs/NCEA_RedFlags_web508.pdf
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