This Sunday, June 15th is the Eighth Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). This year WEAAD also happens to fall on the same day as Father’s day. It is fitting then, as we thank our Dads and other father-figures in our lives, that we also take the time to show gratitude to the elder generation.
The first official Elder Abuse Awareness Day occurred on June 15, 2006. Organization efforts were spearheaded by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the United Nations World Health Organization. Organizers hoped to use this day as “an opportunity to share information and spread awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation later in life.” Six years later, the UN General Assembly established WEAAD as an UN International Day.
In the eight years since its inception, WEAAD has served as an occasion for communities and organizations to take action. Throughout the world local events are taking place to help educate the public about the signs of abuse and the resources available for elders. There may be an event taking place in your area.
San Diego County will be contributing to WEAAD by hosting an Aging Summit on Thursday, June 12th at the Town & Country Convention Center. This year’s theme is “Creating a Safe and Caring Community.” The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m and will cover issues such as financial abuse prevention, elder abuse prevention, and how technology can help keep people safe, among other topics. To register for this free event, visit www.aisevents.org.
If you are unable to attend an event in your area, consider these tips to help combat elder abuse provided by the U.S. Administration for Community Living:
1) Learn to recognize the signs of elder abuse.
Being able to recognize the signs of elder abuse is the first step to taking action. To learn more about the signs of elder abuse click here.
2) Raise awareness in your community.
WEAAD has toolkits available to help you get the word out.
3) Report elder abuse when you see it.
To report suspected abuse, contact your local adult protective services agency. For state reporting numbers, call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
Elder abuse prevention is a shared responsibility. Old age should not preclude individuals of respect and dignity. It is up to us to develop a culture where the rights of the elderly are protected and defended, even when they are no longer able to speak up for themselves. After all, we may find ourselves in need of help in our old age.
We urge you in honor of World Elder Abuse Day to educate yourself about the problem of elder abuse, and check in with an older family member or friend to ensure that they are doing well. Those who nurtured, cared for, and protected us when we were young, now need the same compassion and support they once showed us. As individuals, and as a community, we can make a difference in the lives of millions of older adults and make their “golden years” truly golden.
For more information on, and outreach materials for, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day visit the ACL website.
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