As Americans, “justice for all” is a concept we embrace. Yet every year, an estimated five million Americans experience elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. That number equates to one in every ten older adults.
This Saturday, June 15, is World Elder Abuse Awareness day, an opportunity for people and organizations to take action to protect older adults. Working together, we can build the social supports that can prevent elder abuse and keep us all safe as we age.
Knowing the signs of abuse is important, as is taking steps to prevent our elder loved ones from being socially isolated. For those of us who are older adults, we can protect ourselves by planning for our finances, and being suspicious about emails and phone calls that come out of the blue.
Most important for everyone reading this: If you suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation, report it. Our elders have a right to be safe. In the State of Florida, everyone who suspects abuse is legally obligated to report it to the Florida Department of Children and Families’ abuse hotline at 800-96-ABUSE (800-962-2873). Reporting abuse is easy, and it’s also confidential.
This year, don’t let June 15 be just another Saturday on your calendar. Instead, commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness day by reaching out to an older adult, or by taking actions to protect yourself. For more resources, please contact the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida’s Elder Helpline at 866-41-ELDER (866-413-5337). Our specialists can connect you to resources and assistance, as well as volunteer openings and recreation opportunities.
If we work collectively this June 15, we can all support our national ideal of “justice for all.”