Friday, June 18, 2010

Exposing Elder Abuse

This week Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) commemorates the 5th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This is the first year the federal government acknowledged the day with an event co-sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice. The event featured officials from each department who spoke on the importance of the issue and what is happening in their respective divisions to combat elder abuse.

Financial abuse is especially detrimental to an elder’s ability to make ends meet. Elders unwillingly and unknowingly lose their assets through deceitful tactics by family members, friends, and scam artists. The advocacy group Consumer Action estimates that seniors age 60 and older represent almost 30 percent of fraud victims, though they are only 15 percent of the U.S. population.

Steps are being taken on the federal level to alleviate elder abuse, whether financial, physical, or emotional. The Elder Justice Act, made law through health reform passed earlier this year, provides funds over a four year period to support the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, adult protective services, and also the creation of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. The Council will collect information and make recommendations on the collaborative efforts between federal, state, and local agencies on elder abuse cases.

The passage of these provisions is an important step toward eradicating elder abuse. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many elder abuse cases go unreported.

If you suspect elder abuse in your community, please contact your local adult protective services agency.

-Alisha Howell
Communications & Program Coordinator
Elder Economic Security Initiative

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