Every year on June 15th, communities around the world join to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Since its inception 16 years ago, WEAAD has provided an opportunity to promote awareness of—and critical actions from all over the world that addresses—abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older people.

It can be hard to imagine that anyone would deliberately want to harm an elderly person, but unfortunately, elder abuse is a widespread problem. Some instances of elder abuse are intended to exploit the person financially; you’ve probably heard of scams targeting seniors. In other cases, it’s simple negligence: Caregivers don’t provide the basic necessities, like nutritious food, appropriate medication, safety, or assistance with hygiene. In 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Elder abuse is under-reported. For every one case reported 23 cases go unreported. The number for Financial Exploitation is even worse. For every 1 case of Financial Exploitation reported, 44 go under-reported.

If you see something, say something.

Don’t Miss the Signs of Abuse:

  1. Lack of basic amenities
  2. Cluttered, filthy living environment
  3. Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior
  4. Unexplained bruises, scratches or welts
  5. Unpaid bills, new credit cards and/or increased cash withdrawals
  6. Harassment, coercion, intimidation, humiliation
  7. Caregiver isolates elder

Trust what you’re seeing or feeling. Elder abuse can sometimes be subjective, but it’s usually better to err on the side of caution. That’s even true for potential elderly neglect by family members. Your emotions may be conflicted, but choose to do what’s necessary in order to protect yourself or the senior in your life who you suspect is being mistreated. If you suspect someone may be abused and may need help, please call the Herkimer County Adult Protection at 315-867-1231 or the Office for The Aging/NY Connects office at 315-867-1371.