Baltimore, MD (June 1, 2013) Every year, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The National Center for Elder Abuse states that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as five cases go unreported.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is celebrated on June 15, 2013, a time to raise awareness and educate the public about this growing problem. Raising awareness is a fundamental prevention strategy and can help change attitudes and behaviors around the issue.
“As the population ages, and families are disconnected by distance, many of our elderly neighbors are suffering in silence,” said Ted Dallas, secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources. “During June, we will join with the Maryland Department of Aging and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to raise awareness of this growing problem.”
In FY 2012, the Adult Protective Services Program received approximately 6,801 reports of adult abuse, neglect, self-neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults aged 18 years of age and older, representing an increase of over 800 reports from the FY2010 period. Of the cases reported, 1,932 involved continuing Adult Protective Services case management services to monitor on-going risk factors.
Elder abuse can happen to anyone and can occur anywhere—in a person’s own home, in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, even in hospitals. It affects elders across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races. Based on available information, women, elders who are homebound or isolated, and individuals ages 80 and older are most at risk. The mistreatment is most often perpetrated by the individual’s own family members.
Common risk factors for abuse include:
• The elder is socially isolated or withdrawn
• The elder is in poor physical health
• The elder has dementia or mental health or substance abuse issues
• The perpetrator has mental health or substance abuse issues
Abuse of elders takes many different forms, some involving intimidation or threats against the elderly, some involving neglect, physical, emotional, sexual, t or abandonment by caregivers, financial exploitation, and health care fraud. Warning signs of some kind of elder abuse may include frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person and changes in personality or behavior in the elder.
The DHR Office of Adult Protective Services works to protect the health, safety and welfare of endangered, vulnerable adults. If you suspect abuse, call our toll-free abuse hotline at 1-800-91prevent (1-800-917-7383). To make a report in person, visit your local department of social services and ask to speak to an adult protective services worker. Health practitioners, police officers, or human service workers are mandatory reporters.
Act to protect seniors by bringing suspected abuse to the attention of the appropriate authorities. For more information visit http:///www.dhr.state.me.us/blog/?page-id=4531.
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