Home Health & Hospice

Upcoming events shine light on elder issues

Homecare Insider, April 13, 2015

June 15 will be the ninth annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD)—an event held to unite communities across the globe in the fight against a pervasive crime characterized by low visibility, resource deficits, and a pool of potential victims that is expanding in tandem with the nation’s population of senior citizens. 

These gaps are even more alarming when juxtaposed with the dismal state of today’s reporting rates: As few as one in 24 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities, and only an estimated one in five are ever discovered even though data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that five million older Americans are believed to be the victims of elder abuse each year, losing an estimated $2.6 billion in that time frame as a result.
 
In response to the insidious crime, WEAAD was first kicked off in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization. The event is intended to foster better understanding of elder abuse and neglect on a global scale by encouraging the development of initiatives that raise awareness about the cultural, social, economic, and demographic factors at play.
 
Recommended WEAAD activities include creating educational programs; volunteering to call or visit an isolated senior; or alerting local press about the forthcoming event to advance awareness.
 
WEAAD is observed on the heels of May’s Older Americans Month, a national event first launched by President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens in 1963 to “acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country,” according to the HHS’ Administration of Community Living (ACL). For nearly 40 years, each iteration of the commemoration has built festivities around a certain theme. This year, to pay homage to the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, the theme will be “Get into the Act,” and will showcase “how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others,” says the ACL. The administration has posted to its website a host of tools and resources to help individuals and groups across the country participate in the event by raising awareness about elders’ issues and contributions.   
 
For more information on how to get involved in the two elder-focused events, click here and here.
 
In addition, Beacon Institute members can learn more about recognizing the symptoms of elder abuse and implementing tailored strategies to protect home health patients against the pervasive crime by revisiting the October and December 2014 issues of Homecare DIRECTION.