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June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Release Date: June 11, 2009
Contact: Lori Walston, Mark Van Sciver, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH— The image is not pretty – the examples may make one feel uncomfortable, and some victims may not realize they need help. Elder abuse can take many forms and can sometimes be difficult to recognize. These are some of the reasons that June 15 has been designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Each year, more than two million vulnerable adults and older adults fall prey to elder abuse in the United States.

“Protecting our vulnerable and older adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation is the responsibility of all our citizens,” said Dennis Streets, Division of Aging and Adult Services director. “Learning to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect are important factors to ensuring that our seniors and vulnerable adults live their lives in safe environments with dignity and respect.”

Research shows that older adults who are abused, neglected and exploited are three times more likely to die within 10 years than those who are not.

According to national statistics, elder abuse is grossly underreported because vulnerable and older adults who are being abused find it difficult to tell anyone due to shame and fear. Elder abuse affects men and women of all ethnic backgrounds and social status; it occurs in private residences and in facilities.
In 2008 more than 15,300 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable and older adults were made to North Carolina's 100 county departments of social services. Reports are made not only by doctors and other professionals but by family members and concerned citizens. 

Elder abuse in North Carolina most often happens to adults over the age of 59 who live alone or with family members (85%), while the remainder happens in facilities or shelters. The most common form of mistreatment is neglect, with 69% of the cases involving self-neglect, where victims are unable to care for themselves adequately.

Anyone who suspects that a vulnerable or older adult is in need of protection is required by North Carolina General Statute (GS 108A-102) to report this information to the adult protective services intake unit at the department of social services in the county where the adult resides.

Some of the signs of elder abuse may include:

  • Bruises, burns, cuts, scratches
  • Malnutrition
  • Untreated medical condition(s)
  • Unsafe or unsanitary housing
  • Mental anguish and distress
  • Mistrust toward others
  • Mismanaged property or savings
  • Inability to provide needed care

What can you do to help raise awareness about elder abuse?

  • Don’t ignore this problem. It’s not going away.
  • Report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation to the adult protective services intake unit in the North Carolina county where the adult lives. Contact information for county departments of social services is available at: www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/local
  • Volunteer in local programs that provide assistance and support for vulnerable and older adults in your community and at long-term care facilities.
  • Educate yourself, family and community about elder abuse by visiting our website at www.ncdhhs.gov/aging

 

 

 

 

 

 

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