Last Friday I attended a meeting sponsored by the “Justice Alliance for Vulnerable Adults”. The focus of the meeting was to examine abuse and financial exploitation cases from a health care, legal, and social services perspective. The summit brought together national and Idaho experts to discuss the issues with professionals working with vulnerable adults. The primary spotlight was on seniors. The distressing part of the meeting was to learn how many seniors are abused.
Let’s start with a basic truth. Taking assets of an elder or vulnerable adult is a CRIME.
Common victim characteristics include: the victim is a man who is grieving the loss of a spouse or close friend, and they are lonely and isolated. Experts state only one in every 23 events is reported. Only a handful of cases of elder abuse are prosecuted in Idaho each year. The support agencies and legal system in Idaho are not coordinated in a way to effectively protect seniors from caregivers, family and other predators.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected, and exploited. In addition, elders throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation, funds that could have been used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, and medical care. Unfortunately, no one is immune to abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It occurs in every demographic, and can happen to anyone–a family member, a neighbor, even you. ??World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. The purpose of WEAAD is to provide 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.
How Can You Be Involved? An easy first step is to call or visit an isolated senior.
Source: International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
Idaho Commisson on Aging, http://www.aging.idaho.gov