Think of older adults on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day News Graphic
Share To Your Social Network

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day might not be on your list of summer highlights, but consider taking a moment this June 15 to think about the older adults in your community and their well-being, says Debbie Bennett, University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health specialist.

Since 2011, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day has been recognized on June 15 by the United Nations General Assembly. It was adopted in Missouri by Gov. Mike Parson in 2021. “On this day each year, the world recognizes the abuse and suffering that some older adults face,” Bennett said.

Elder abuse is a worldwide problem that hits close to home. The state of Missouri receives 116 elder abuse reports every day, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. For every case that is reported, as many as 23 cases may go unreported.

“Elder abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, financial, neglect, abandonment, and even self-neglect,” Bennett said. In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents nationally, the person who commits the abuse is a family member such as a spouse or adult child.

Be on the lookout for signs of abuse in the older adults you interact with:

  • Appear depressed, confused, or withdrawn.
  • Are isolated from friends and family.
  • Have unexplained bruises, burns, or scars.
  • Are dirty, underfed, dehydrated, over- or under-medicated, or not receiving care for medical issues.
  • Have bedsores or other preventable conditions.
  • Made recent changes in banking or spending patterns.

There are other ways you can help, Bennett said. “Check on loved ones, friends, and neighbors. Support agencies that provide services to older adults. Distribute materials in your workplace and community that spread awareness.”

Most importantly, if you suspect abuse, neglect, bullying, or financial exploitation of an older adult, call the DHSS hotline at 1-800-392-0210. The hotline is available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If the report is not an emergency, you can also submit your report to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Share To Your Social Network