BALTIMORE, MARYLAND (June 12, 2012) — On June 15, the Maryland Department of Human Resources will honor World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: a time to raise awareness and educate the public about the growing and often unnoticed problem of the financial, physical and verbal abuse of the elderly. Most victimized elders are abused by people that they know and trust, and victims often remain silent out of fear of physical retribution, embarrassment, loneliness or institutionalization.
“Many of the victims are dependent on others for their care and this makes them susceptible to abusive or neglectful treatment,” Ted Dallas, secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources said. “Three out of four cases that we see involve neglect, and too many Marylanders are suffering in silence.”
In 2011, the Department of Human Resources investigated over 6,500 elder abuse allegations throughout Maryland. Nationally, more than 95,000 elderly and disabled adults are known to have been victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation during this same period. The true number of victims, however, may be much higher as elder abuse is often an unreported crime.
Abuse of elders takes many different forms, such as: intimidation and physical abuse; abandonment and neglect; emotional abuse; sexual abuse; and financial exploitation. With nearly two-thirds of the population projected to be over 62-years old by 2030, more and more Americans are at risk of tragic and often misunderstood form of abuse each year.
DHR urges everyone who suspects abuse or neglect of an older adult to call the abuse hotline at 1-800-917-7383 — even if they are not certain that their suspicions are correct. Good faith reports are exempt from liability and are kept strictly confidential.
Competent victims have the right to refuse services, but caseworkers can seek a court order to protect the health and safety of citizens who are in danger or unable to consent to being helped.
The Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) is the state’s primary social service provider, serving over one million people annually. The Department, through its 24 local departments of social services, aggressively pursues opportunities to assist people in economic need, provide preventive services and protect vulnerable children and adults in each of Maryland’s 24 counties.