June 15, 2011 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a time to raise awareness and educate public about a topic that is too often ignored.
Based on both state and federal statistics, nearly 200,000 Californians are victims of elder abuse every year. This problem threatens to grow worse as the “graying” of the Baby Boom generation results in unprecedented demographic shifts. Specifically, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that California’s elderly population, already the largest in the nation, will nearly double in size within the next two decades.
Generally, the term elder abuse refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. Broadly defined, elder abuse can take the form of:
- Physical Abuse– inflicting physical pain or injury, e.g., slapping, kicking, or bruising.
- Sexual Abuse– non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
- Neglect– the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable senior.
- Exploitation– the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
- Emotional Abuse– inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.
- Abandonment– desertion of a vulnerable elder who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
If you suspect someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, or are a victim yourself, please do not hesitate to seek help. You can download the California Office of Aging’s “A Citizen’s Guide To Preventing & Reporting Elder Abuse” here and learn how to report the crimes committed against you.