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Every year, an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of abuse and neglect. In fact, Highlands County had 262 cases of various types of elder abuse opened in 2017, which was down from the previous year’s numbers of 348. Florida Hospital Home Care Services Sebring, along with others across the nation, will participate to raise awareness of elder abuse by wearing purple on June 15th in support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and encourage you to do the same. Why purple? Because purple is a color recognized world-wide for dignity, respect, and royalty. The same way we should treat our elders.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was recognized in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN). WEAAD aims to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
In addition, WEAAD is held in support of the UN International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. This observance serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person (average age typically is 65 or older) and is carried out by someone they know and trust. The abuser may be a son or daughter, grandchild, partner, other family member, friend or neighbor. Types of abuse can be classified as physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial or neglect by a caregiver, and may also include older adults who neglect themselves. There are several different signs to watch for to help identify a victim. The signs to watch for include bruises or grip marks around the arm or neck, being uncommunicative or unresponsive, having a lack of interest in social contacts, unexplained loss of weight and/or untreated bedsores. The appearance of any of these symptoms and others not listed should prompt further investigations to determine and remedy the cause.
The first step toward preventing elder abuse is to recognize that no one should be subjected to violent, abusive, humiliating or neglectful behavior. Taking positive steps, such as educating people about elder abuse, increasing the availability of respite care, promoting increased social contact and support for families with dependent older adults and encouraging counseling and treatment to cope with personal and family problems that contribute to abuse will also help with prevention.
There are a variety of places to go for help, including the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) www.ncea.aoa.gov, Adult Protective Services (APS) www.napsa-now.org, Eldercare Locator www.eldercare.gov, Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCU) www.namfcu.net/states, National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233 and Psychologist Locator http://locator.apa.org.
If you suspect elder abuse, neglect (including self-neglect), or exploitation, please contact the abuse
hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873), report online on the DCF website
www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/abuse/report.shtml. Reporters may remain anonymous and have legal
protection from retaliation, discrimination and civil or criminal prosecution. If there is an immediate
threat of danger, please call 911. Only through YOU can we make progress in changing the statistics and
addressing the abuse that is occurring.