On June 15, 2010, we honored the 5th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In 2006, The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse allied with groups around the world to advance the public’s knowledge of the perils that face our older population.
According to the White House Blog, elder abuse, neglect, or self-neglect is a problem that affects between 700,000 to 3.5 million Americans every year. Those mistreated elders are 300% more likely to experience premature death than those who are not harmed. In addition to abuse by relatives and friends, nursing home abuse and neglect accounts for a large portion of these injuries. A disproportionate amount of victims are females. Many forms of elder abuse are recognized as types of domestic violence. In 2006, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) apportioned funds to help these victims. However, only 1% of the VAWA funds are dedicated to older women.
Research has shown that elder abuse, neglect or exploitation is significantly under-reported and under-identified. As little as 1 in 6 cases are reported to authorities. Due to the high number of victims, it is crucial that this problem is highlighted for people to understand the extent of the problem. There were global observations of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, including here in Chicago, Illinois.
The National Center for State Courts has created a new website, Centers for Elders and the Courts, to focus attention on this topic. The website educates and provides resources for anyone wanting to know more about state laws, guardianship, aging issues and elder abuse.
Although World Elder Abuse Day has passed, we believe it is important to raise awareness surrounding elder abuse year round and encourage every person to acknowledge this issue. If you suspect that someone you know has been a victim of elder abuse at the hands of a nursing home, assisted living facility or home health provider, contact a Chicago elder abuse lawyer to discuss the possible case.