World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Is June 15

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, in an effort to unite communities around the world to raise awareness about elder abuse. Everyone is encouraged to wear purple on June 15 to bring recognition to the issue.

Each year, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, bullied or exploited. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations and communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders.

“Elder abuse affects older people across all socioeconomic groups, cultures and races and can occur anywhere when they are disconnected from social supports: in a person’s home, in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutional settings, or in hospitals,” said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Elder abuse may include obvious warning signs such as bruises, cuts or abrasions. But other types of abuse may not be so apparent.

“Abuse may be a family member who continually borrows money but does not repay it, a caregiver over-medicating a senior, or a repairman who overcharges for home maintenance,” said Williams.  

In Missouri, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) receives and investigates reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly and disabled. Last year, DHSS received 38,781 reports, an average of about 106 each day. That number is on the rise, though the crimes are vastly underreported.

“The victim is often in a situation of dependency and relies on the perpetrator for care or transportation, and feels too fearful or embarrassed to report the abuse. They may be in denial that the abuse is occurring, or unaware that what they are experiencing is abuse or neglect,” said Williams. Anyone who suspects a senior or disabled Missourian is being abused, neglected, bullied or exploited, should call the toll-free Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-0210.  The hotline is operational from 7:00 am through midnight, 365 days a year.

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