This year the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is on June 15, 2016. WEAAD was launched ten years ago, on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. Ten years is not much to harvest the effects of such an initiate but we are grateful, we started somewhere.
We wonder what is what drag human beings to the bottom of acts of violence and lower themselves to inflict pain and injury onto others, including our elders.
Maybe it’s like the dark side of the human coin… that is to say the acts of Caring and compassion are the bright side of human conscience…. and hopefully they will grow more and more. But the other side of that coin (something terrible in human nature,) is the pathway of abuse and cruelty. Hard to say why it is there … equally hard to say how to get each individual to resist that urge in himself/herself.
If only one could root out those tendencies and still have the human being intact… and yet… is it there for a purpose, we can’t yet see? ~Richard Wiseman
Another author, Arnold Mindell, define abuse as: Abuse is “an unfair use of physical, psychological or social power against others who are unable to defend themselves, because they do not have equal physical, psychological or social power. Whether a process or relationship is abusive depends upon a group’s or individual’s sense of their ability to protect themselves” ~Arnold Mindell, Sitting in the Fire.
We could elaborate on many reasons for abuse, psychological, cultural, social, intergenerational and perhaps not to find a one size fits all to avoid it but at least the purpose of the WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect. In addition, WEAAD is in support of the United Nations International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Visit the WEAAD microsite on ACL.gov to become a collaborator. The department of Health and Human Services has created the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) serves as a national resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder mistreatment. First established by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) in 1988 as a national elder abuse resource center, the NCEA was granted a permanent home at AoA in the 1992 amendments made to Title II of the Older Americans Act.
Directed by the U.S. Administration on Aging, NCEA is a resource for policy makers, social service and health care practitioners, the justice system, researchers, advocates, and families.
“National, state, and local partners in the field will be fully prepared to ensure that older Americans will live with dignity, integrity, independence, and without abuse, neglect, and exploitation.”
Response and prevention strategies for elder and vulnerable adult abuse are numerous and varied. We’ve summarized and collected information about some of the most well-known interventions and response systems. It’s important to remember that ANYONE can help at some level. Learn when and how to report abuse
- Get help for commonly seen “suspicious situations” involving possible abuse of elders and adults with disabilities
- Learn about the agencies and organizations that respond to reports of abuse
- Learn what some communities and multidisciplinary teams are doing to prevent abuse from occurring
- Explore how the many fields and organizations that serve elders and adults with disabilities may play a role in abuse intervention and prevention
Talk About Abuse
Many of the underlying phases of abuse has its roots in ignoring the feelings of minorities, not reviewing our biases, and using the power of our class or rank to perpetrate abuse and perpetuate abusive situations. A lot of the abuse happens when one does not have enough power to defend ourselves. Thus it creates feelings of hopelessness and distrust in one’s own perception. The most important rule while talking about past or present abuse is not to recreate the same experiences. Thus, as a listener:
- Be open and attentive.
- Refrain from any judgment or “objective” comments.
- Help a person to accept the victim perspective.
- Do not side with the perpetrator, silent witnesses or even “common sense” point of view.
- Be kind and gentle.
- Be aware of the rank issues. Rank is used consciously is needed and helpful in any community but if used for dominate, it will lead to abusive interactions and situations within families, communities, and institutions.
To learn how to prevent abuse through volunteerism and raising awareness, visit the Get Involved section.
Imagine if we could have a world FREE of elder abuse! Help to make it happen.