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What to do about Elder Abuse
January 31 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
What can we each do to prevent and combat elder abuse in our communities? It is critically important to learn to recognize the signs and risk factors of elder abuse. Signs can be dramatic, such as fresh bruises or an empty bank account, or subtle, like increased isolation or withdrawal. Although elder abuse can and does happen to anyone, there are some specific risk factors to be aware of. Elders with dementia or mental illness are at higher risk for abuse, as are elders living with and dependent upon caregivers, especially when their caregivers have their own host of problems such as lack of income, addiction, or mental illness. In addition, elders from marginalized communities including linguistic minorities, communities of color, and LGBT elders all have unique risk factors. Next, we must promote a heightened awareness about this serious problem – education is the best method of prevention. Local resources such as public libraries, senior centers, and PSA’s on local cable television can be utilized to get the word out. Local media, in particular, is a great way to reach homebound and isolated elders.
The Newburyport Senior/Community Center plans a free seminar on January 31st at 1 pm on the topic of elder abuse. Finally, it is also essential to know how to access help for someone who has been abused or whom you suspect has been abused. There is help available for every elder in the Commonwealth who may be a victim of abuse. There are adult protective services available to everyone age 60 or older regardless of income status. You can and should file a report if you suspect that an older adult is being abused. Elder abuse is a
- Law enforcement issue
- A social justice issue
- A public health issue
It is also, ultimately, a local issue which undermines the well-being and healthy aging of valued members of our communities on a daily basis. As more people live longer and age in their homes and communities, we need to work diligently to ensure that all elders in Massachusetts have the opportunity to live healthy, meaningful, self-directed, and dignified lives free of abuse and neglect.