World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Advancing Equity
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) serves as a reminder about the factors surrounding abuse and neglect of older persons. The pandemic highlighted the disproportionate impact of tragedy on underserved communities, including seniors, who faced high rates of elder abuse, fraud, and nursing homes deaths.
One recent report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted that elder fraud has grown. Older adults in the United States reported $1 billion in losses in 2020. This includes victims of COVID-related scams.
Reporting can be difficult, with many seniors unsure of the process or too embarrassed to report. Understaffed Adult Protective Services offices can also cause lengthy processing times and underreporting. Older adults are less likely to report fraud – especially money lost. Older adults in the U.S. are likely to lose nearly 25 times more to scammers, with an estimated $113.7 billion a year!
To prevent and respond to elder abuse, we need a better understanding of who could be victims. Thanks to the Elder Justice Act of 2020, we have a national reporting system for elder abuse – the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS).
There is evidence that definitions of abuse vary between cultural communities. Learning how diverse communities define abuse is essential to develop culturally competent interventions. We can address the lack of trust within communities of color with more cultural representation in law enforcement, social service organizations, and health care systems. The Elder Justice Coalition works hard to reach communities of color and underserved populations with our initiatives and involve them in our advocacy work.
Social Security is a key member of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. They are committed to offering training to staff members to recognize elder abuse and financial exploitation. They’re doing great work to protect beneficiaries from Social Security and government imposter scams.
On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, let’s remember that elder abuse doesn’t discriminate. It victimizes across all social, racial, ethnic, and gender domains. We must commit to helping victims and preventing further victimization – especially of those who have been underserved. Please share this important resource with your family and friends—and post it on social media.